Congenital heart defects too often go undetected before birth

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Although almost all expectant mothers in Germany undergo prenatal screening for organic malformations, there is a greater than average likelihood of congenital heart defects remaining undetected. This is the finding of the nationwide PAN study, which recorded the prevalence of congenital heart defects in newborns in Germany from 2006 to 2009.

In the case of certain heart defects, delayed diagnosis may result in irreparable damage to the brain and kidneys. “That is why prenatal diagnosis of moderate and severe heart defects is enormously important for the health of the child and for planning corrective surgery,” says Professor Dr. Hashim Abdul-Khaliq, spokesman for the Competence Network for Congenital Heart Defects. Early detection of a heart defect has a decisive influence on the outcome of the surgery and the long-term progression of the condition. To this end, experts are calling for a uniform early detection programme.

Author(s): Wiebke Lesch
Last updated: 2010-12-21