Report: A Public Health Science Agenda for Congenital Heart Defects – Report from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Expert Meeting

Many hand prints in the shape of a heart

In 2013, the Journal of the American Heart Association published a public health science agenda for congenital heart defects (CHDs). This report summarizes public health strategies to address the knowledge gaps that affect the growing population of those living with a CHD, as identified by a CDC-convened expert meeting. This public health science agenda will help guide future tracking, research, prevention, and communication efforts related to CHDs across the lifespan. You can read the article hereexternal icon.

Main Findings from this Report

Congenital heart defects (CHDs) are the most common birth defect. They affect about 1 in every 110 babies born in the United States. They are the leading cause of infant death due to birth defects. They also account for over $1.4 billion in hospital costs alone each year. However, there is a lot that we do not know about CHDs. In a meeting convened by CDC, experts identified the following gaps in knowledge about CHDs:

  • How many people are living with a CHD? What are their social or lifestyle characteristics, such as age, race/ethnicity, or education level?
  • What causes CHDs?
  • As treatment is improving over time, what are the health outcomes across the lifespan?
  • What are the optimal health services to improve the lives of those living with CHDs?
  • How can those living with CHDs better understand their disease and need for life-long care?

Several strategies were prioritized to address these gaps in understanding, such as:

  • Expand public health tracking of CHDs beyond the first year of life, to include children and adults
  • Continue to investigate causes of CHDs
  • Collect information on health outcomes across the lifespan
  • Learn more about health service use among those with a CHDs, including cost and quality of care
  • Identify barriers in accessing care or in transitioning to adult care
  • Increase awareness of the public health impact of CHDs

These strategies will help guide future activities of CDC, other federal agencies, professional organizations, and other stakeholders. These strategies are aimed at preventing CHDs when possible and improving the lives of those living with CHDs.

More Information

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Paper Reference

Oster ME, Riehle-Colarusso T, Simeone R, Gurvitz M, Kaltman JR, McConnell M, Rosenthal GL, Honein MA. A public health science agenda for congenital heart defects: report from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expert meeting. Journal of the American Heart Association: 2013; 2(5): e000256.