Causes of Heart Defects Unknown cause: We don't know the exact cause of most heart defects.
Over 1.3 million Americans alive today have some form of congenital heart defect.
In the United States, about 40,000 children are born with a heart defect each year.
The factors are usually both genetic and environmental, where a combination of genes from both parents, in addition to unknown environmental factors, combine to produce the trait or condition.
Most mothers of babies born with congenital heart disease will look critically at their own behaviors during pregnancy to try to find a cause for their child's illness.
The odds depend on what type of defect you have and whether anyone else in your family has a heart defect.
Genetic syndrome: Some people with congenital heart defects have a specific genetic condition that can include other health problems.
Mothers who have phenylketonuria (PKU) who do not adhere to the special diet necessary to manage the disease during pregnancy have a higher risk of having a child with congenital heart disease.
Also, women with insulin-dependent diabetes (particularly if the diabetes is not well-controlled) or lupus may have a higher risk of having a child with heart defects.
It is important to remember that most cases of congenital heart disease have no known cause.
However, some types of congenital heart defects are known to occur more often when the mother comes in contact with certain substances during the first few weeks of pregnancy, while the baby's heart is developing.
Always consult your health care provider or obstetrician for more information.