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Congenital Heart Defect Day

What is Congenital Heart Defect (CHD)?<!—->.

Wednesday, February 14, 2001

What is Congenital Heart Defect (CHD)?

Thanks to Ron and Missy Leonard of Ironton and their son Brett – who has a type of CHD called hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) – Ironton Mayor Bob Cleary has found it appropriate to proclaim today Congenital Heart Defect Day in the city.

"We want to make people aware of the disease and what it does, and that more is needed for research," said the mayor. "It is a good thing to let people know there is such a need for this type of research."

According to the American Heart Association, there are over 32,000 babies born in the U.S. each year with some type of CHD, making it the number one birth defect. CHD accounts for 42 percent of all birth defects and most of them are fatal. Heart defects accounted for 31.4 percent of all birth defect-related deaths.

The Children’s Health Information Network says that despite the statistics, newborns and teenage athletes are not routinely screened for CHD and a proportionally small amount of funding is available for research.

Over the past years, funding for heart defect research has been drastically cut. For every dollar provided for medical funding by the federal government, only one penny is provided for pediatric research. Only a portion of that penny is going to support the research of congenital heart defects. Research is needed to meet the needs of these patients as they reach adolescence and adulthood, the Leonards say.

The Leonards are thankful for the treatment and care that Brett has been given, but they say there is more to be learned about the disease that requires more research.

Brett, who will turn one on Sunday, will be having another surgery sometime after the age of two. He has successfully recovered from the first two surgeries he has had. Contributions may be made to the Children’s Health Information Network – CHIN, 1561 Clark Drive, Yardley, Pa. 19067. To learn more about CHD, visit: www.tchin.org/aware; www.execpc.com/~kdswhrt/; or www.achaheart.org.