Child Heart Conditions Present Big Challenges to MN Families

Child Heart Conditions Present Big Challenges to MN Families Click to Enlarge

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Throughout February, various groups in Minnesota are raising awareness of the importance of heart health.

This week, the focus is on children born with heart defects.

As part of National Heart Month, the American Heart Association of Minnesota is getting the word out about the challenges families face when their child is born with a heart condition.

Emily Swanson, communications director for the American Heart Association of Minnesota, says the challenges are endless.

"A lot of kids that we see have to go through a lot of surgeries when they're babies and toddlers and into childhood," she points out. "And so, a lot of those surgeries obviously take a toll on the kid and the family."

And in some cases, she says, children face restrictions on what they can do as they grow. There's also the stress of waiting for a heart transplant, if the need arises.

The association says nationally, 1 in 100 births results in a congenital heart defect. Minnesota officials say each year, roughly 650 babies are born with one.

Swanson says thanks to advancements in research, many of these children are able to live longer. But she says the complications can often stay with them.

"They're making it into adulthood, but it comes with a variety of new challenges, whether that's a valve issue, or just different issues present as they get older," she explains.

To learn more about some of the stories of families affected by this issue, visit supportnetwork.heart.org.

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