Congenital Heart Disease Awareness Week takes place in February to coincide with American Heart Month. Congenital heart disease is a condition in which the structural development of the heart becomes a problem while in the womb. While some of these defects have the ability to heal themselves over time, others require surgery and continuous care.
Getting the Upper Hand
UAB’s congenital heart disease program offers prenatal diagnosis and management of congenital heart disease, postnatal management of infants and children, and lifelong care for adults with complex congenital heart disease. Prenatal screenings for congenital heart disease can be performed beginning as early as 18 to 20 weeks and are recommended for those who have a family history of congenital heart disease. Thanks to technological advances, the physicians at UAB are able to use modern ultrasound equipment to diagnose congenital heart disease while a child is still in the womb.
Taking a Defensive Stance
Congenital heart disease accounts for 20 percent of infant deaths within the first year of life. Every year, there are around 2,000 children born with congenital heart defects in Alabama. UAB is a longtime leader in the management of babies born with congenital heart disease, as well as providing continual care for newborns with cardiac issues.
UAB has improved the care of mothers and their unborn children by partnering the Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) team with Pediatric Cardiology and Cardiovascular Surgery in a multidisciplinary clinic to enhance the care of infants, providing the family the opportunity to meet with all physicians involved with the child’s case in a single location. Once the baby is born under the care of MFM in the UAB Women & Infants Center, the family receives seamless care from the experts at the Joseph S. Bruno Heart Center located in the Children’s of Alabama Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children, which is connected via skybridge to the Women & Infants Center. Together with UAB’s adult congenital heart surgery facilities, patients are provided with a unique single platform continuum of care from prenatal through newborn, pediatric, and adult care for congenital heart disease.
UAB’s care for congenital heart disease patients extends beyond childood into adulthood. Adults with the disease have a longer life expectancy due to advanced treatments; however, they are at risk of developing other heart issues, such as arrhythmias, endocarditis, and heart failure. As the only comprehensive congenital heart disease program in Alabama, UAB offers seamless treatment for congenital heart disease patients who face conditions like these.