OSF Children's Hospital

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How common are congenital heart defects?

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, congenital heart defects (CHD) are the most common type of birth defect in the U.S., affecting nearly 1 percent of ― or about 40,000 ― births per year. Nearly 1 in 100 babies are born with a heart defect in the U.S. each year. Congenital heart defects are about 60 times more prevalent than childhood cancer. CHDs are now the most common heart problem in pregnant women.

  • How serious are congenital heart defects?

  • Congenital heart defects are a leading cause of birth defect-associated infant illness and death. In the U.S., twice as many children die from congenital heart defects each year than from all forms of childhood cancer combined. Congenital heart defects (CHDs) are present at birth. They include abnormalities in the heart’s structure, electrical system and other abnormalities that affect the function of the heart.

  • How are congenital heart defects detected?

  • Many serious CHDs are diagnosed during pregnancy or very shortly after delivery using standard tests. For instance, fetal echo tests are often used to monitor and capture a picture of an unborn baby’s heart, between the 18- and 22-week of pregnancy. CHD may also be diagnosed after delivery via a newborn screening —when physical exam, blood pressure and oxygen in blood (or pulse oximetry) tests are performed at the hospital.

  • Are there varying degrees of seriousness among congenital heart defects?

  • About 25 percent of babies with a CHD have a critical CHD. Infants with critical CHDs generally need surgery or other invasive procedures within their first year of life.

  • How many people have congenital heart defects?

  • Approximately 2 million to 3 million individuals are thought to be living in the U.S. with CHDs. Because there is no U.S. system to track CHDs beyond early childhood, more precise estimates are not available. That estimate includes about 1 million children and 1.4 million adults.

  • How consistent is continued care for adults with congenital heart defects?

  • In 2012, it was estimated that only 10 percent of adults with CHD were receiving the care recommended by evidence-based guidelines.

  • What is the discharge survival rate for patients treated at the Congenital Heart Center at OSF HealthCare Children’s Hospital of Illinois?

  • The Congenital Heart Center (CHC) at OSF Children’s Hospital is the largest program in the state outside of Chicago providing care to children and adults. The CHC maintains a 98 percent overall discharge survival rate, better than benchmarks set by the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS).

  • How long has the Congenital Heart Center at OSF Children’s Hospital been caring for people with congenital heart defects?

  • Since our first congenital heart defect repair in 1972, the Congenital Heart Center at OSF Children’s Hospital of Illinois has continually expanded to become the region’s leading congenital heart center. Each year, the Congenital Heart Center manages more than 9,000 clinic visits. Approximately 250 cardiac surgeries per year – more than 7,800 to date -- are performed by our two full time board-certified congenital heart surgeons for patients of all ages, from newborns to adults. And our board-certified pediatric cardiologists and adult congenital cardiologists are transforming the way we treat congenital heart disease.