In most cases, the cause of a congenital heart defect isn't known. But certain things increase your baby's chances of having a heart defect. These include:
- Family history. A child's risk for having a congenital heart defect increases if a brother, sister or parent has one.
- Other genetic conditions. For example, Down syndrome has been linked to these defects.
- Premature birth. Babies born too early have a higher chance of having a heart defect.
- Chronic conditions. Babies born to women with diabetes or phenylketonuria have a higher chance of having a heart defect.
- Use of alcohol or drugs. Women who drink alcohol, take certain prescription or over-the-counter medicines or use illegal street drugs during pregnancy may cause the baby to have a heart defect.
If you're concerned about having a baby with a congenital heart defect, you can take steps to lower your risk.
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