Congenital Heart Defects affect approximately 40,000 babies born each year — that’s about one out of every 100. And during Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week, you can help raise awareness.

Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week (Feb. 7-14) is a full week in the middle of February, also known as Heart Health Month, dedicated to bringing awareness.

It’s something that I hold near and dear to my heart because I am what they call a Heart Warrior. I was born nearly three months premature — at 27 weeks — and suffered from Pulmonary Valve Stenosis (PVS), a type of Congenital Heart Defect (CHD). I ended up having surgery to fix it. (Below is a photo from when I was in the NICU.)

congenital heart

CHD has also affected my co-worker’s son. So if there are ways we can help spread awareness, then babies with CHD will have a stronger chance at overcoming all of the obstacles because of it.

But, before we dive into the three ways you can help raise awareness for CHD and for those it affects, we’re gonna give you a little background information about CHD.

What is CHD?

Congenital means “present at birth.” So any heart defects that are congenital are conditions that a baby’s born with. According to the American Heart Association, “A defect results when the heart or blood vessels near the heart don’t develop normally before birth.”

CHD is the number one birth defect in the United States — it’s more common than Spina Bifida and Down syndrome. Currently, there are 35 types of heart defects, including one of the more common types, Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD) — it’s when a hole in the septum separates the two lower ventricles of the heart, meaning that extra blood is being pumped into the lungs, which in turn causes the heart and lungs to compensate and work that much harder.

There’s also critical congenital heart disease (CCHD), and it’s a group of the seven most-severe CHDs. CCHD can have an impact on the way a baby’s heart is shaped, how it works, and sometimes even both, according to the March of Dimes website. CCHD could be deadly if not treated properly within the first first hours, days, or months of life.

How to Raise Awareness

Participate in Fundraising Events

There are several walks and fundraisers throughout the DMV area, the most popular of which is the Congenital Heart Walk.

Spread the Word

Use your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to spread the word about CHD. The more people know, the more we can do to help CHD become a thing of the past. My co-worker manages a Facebook site to follow his son’s Jaxson’s journey with CHD, and that could be a great place to start.

Donate

There are plenty of organizations and support groups where you can donate your time and money. Some organizations include Pediatric Congenital Heart Association, Children’s Miracle Network, American Heart Association, Mended Little Hearts, March of Dimes, and Children’s Heart Foundation.

My co-worker’s son Jaxson, courtesy of Jaxson’s Journey Facebook page

Are there other ways we can help spread the word about Congenital Heart Defects? Have you or a loved one been affected by CHD? Let us know in the comments below, and let’s get the conversation started.

To follow Jaxson’s Journey on Facebook, please click here.

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