Congenital Heart Disease

Find your care

UCLA Health neonatologists are dedicated to delivering expert care to your baby and tailored support to your family.

Call 310-825-0867 to connect with us.

What does it mean if my baby has Congenital Heart Disease?

Congenital heart diseases or congenital heart defects (CHD) are structural problems of the heart that arise while the heart is developing before birth. Congenital heart diseases are the most common type of birth defects, affecting approximately 1% of babies born in the United States. These are usually diagnosed by prenatal ultrasound or shortly after birth.

What are the different types of congenital heart disease?

A normal heart has four separate chambers, four valves and several major blood vessels. All of these structures work together to perform two important functions: pumping blood to the lungs to receive oxygen, and then pumping blood to the rest of the body. A problem with any of these structures of the heart can result in low oxygen or blood supply to the body.

Our specialists at UCLA are trained to treat all types of congenital heart disease, from simple to complex, including conditions such as:

Septal Defects (abnormal communication or "hole" in the heart)

  • Ventricular Septal Defect
  • Atrial Septal Defect
  • AV Canal/Atrioventricular Septal Defect

Valve Defects

  • Tetralogy of Fallot
  • Pulmonary Stenosis or Pulmonary Atresia
  • Tricuspid Atresia
  • Aortic Stenosis

Defects of Major Blood Vessels

  • Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA)
  • Truncus Arteriosus
  • Coarctation of the Aorta
  • Interrupted Aortic Arch
  • Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return (TAPVR)
  • Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)
  • Vascular Ring/Vascular Sling

Single Ventricle Disease

  • Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome
  • Double Inlet Left Ventricle
  • Double Outlet Right Ventricle
  • Ebstein’s Anomaly
  • Heterotaxy

How are Congenital Heart Defects diagnosed?

Many of these congenital heart defects can be identified during pregnancy with routine ultrasound exams. If this is the case, your provider may refer you to a maternal fetal specialist or pediatric cardiologist for more detailed testing, including a fetal ECHO (ultrasound of the heart). After birth, we use ECHO, chest x-rays, and precision tools such as cardiac MRI and cardiac catherization to guide treatment and surgical planning.

What if my baby is diagnosed with a congenital heart defect while I'm pregnant?

The UCLA Fetal Cardiology program offers comprehensive consultation services for pregnant mothers whose developing babies have known or suspected heart problems. The program has been in existence for over 25 years and provides world-class care by utilizing state-of-the-art technology in a compassionate and caring environment. A multidisciplinary from a variety of specialized services including pediatric cardiology, pediatric cardiothoracic surgery, neonatal ICU (NICU), medical genetics and genetic counseling, and maternal fetal medicine ensures that patients and families receive comprehensive care. Patients are referred from across southern and central California, and beyond.

How to do you treat congenital heart defects?

Every baby with a congenital heart defect at UCLA receives an individualized treatment plan, as each case in unique. Some babies with milder forms of congenital heart disease may not need immediate treatment and can be watched by a cardiologist. Others can be managed with medications in the NICU during the newborn period. More complex cases may require surgery or cardiac catherization in the first few weeks or months of life.