Announcement: Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week — February 7–14, 2016

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Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week, held February 7–14, is an annual observance to promote awareness and education about congenital heart defects (CHDs). Heart defects are costly and critical conditions that persons live with throughout their lives. CHDs affect nearly 1 in 100 births every year in the United States and are the most common type of birth defect (1,2). Some heart defects can be diagnosed prenatally using ultrasound, some might be identified during newborn screening using pulse oximetry, and others might be discovered by clinical exam or when the person becomes symptomatic. An estimated 2 million children and adults in the United States are living with a CHD today (3). CDC’s Stories: Living with Heart Defects website includes personal stories written by persons affected by CHDs (

CDC works to track and research CHDs through many different efforts, including 1) working with state tracking programs to evaluate newborn screening for critical congenital heart defects;* 2) funding state programs to track birth defects, including CHDs; 3) funding several research centers§ across the nation to help understand the causes of birth defects, including CHDs; and 4) launching projects focused on tracking persons with CHDs across the lifespan.

CDC-funded research recently reported risks for certain CHDs in babies of mothers who were exposed to pesticides at work (4) and a reduction in CHD risk for mothers with better diet quality (5). CDC research also determined that children with CHDs receive special education more often than children who do not have birth defects (6). CDC’s congenital heart defects website has additional information regarding congenital heart defects (


  1. Hoffman JI, Kaplan S. The incidence of congenital heart disease. J Am Coll Cardiol 2002;39:1890–900.  CrossRef PubMed
  2. Reller MD, Strickland MJ, Riehle-Colarusso T, Mahle WT, Correa A. Prevalence of congenital heart defects in metropolitan Atlanta, 1998-2005. J Pediatr 2008;153:807–13.  CrossRef PubMed
  3. Marelli A, Gilboa S, Devine O, et al. Estimating the congenital heart disease population in the United States in 2010—what are the numbers? J Am Coll Cardiol 2012;59:E787.  CrossRef
  4. Rocheleau CM, Bertke SJ, Lawson CC, et al. ; National Birth Defects Prevention Study. Maternal occupational pesticide exposure and risk of congenital heart defects in the National Birth Defects Prevention Study. Birth Defects Res A Clin Mol Teratol 2015;103:823–33.  CrossRef PubMed
  5. Botto LD, Krikov S, Carmichael SL, Munger RG, Shaw GM, Feldkamp ML; National Birth Defects Prevention Study. Lower rate of selected congenital heart defects with better maternal diet quality: a population-based study. Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed 2016;101:43–9. PubMed
  6. Riehle-Colarusso T, Autry A, Razzaghi H, et al. Congenital heart defects and receipt of special education services. Pediatrics 2015;136:496–504.  CrossRef PubMed

Suggested citation for this article: Announcement: Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week — February 7–14, 2016. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2016;65:98. DOI:

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