Congenital Heart Disease


The term ‘Congenital Heart Disease’ (CHD) refers to an abnormality of the heart which is present at birth.

  • Up to 20% of heart defects are gene-linked abnormalities, but for the remaining 80% the cause is largely unknown.
  • Heart disease is present in one in every hundred babies at birth making Congenital Heart Disease the most common birth defect in Australia.
  • Eight babies are born in Australia every day with heart disease. That is nearly 3000 each year.
  • Heart disease is the most common reason for admission of Australian children to intensive care units with more than 1300 being admitted each year. More patients with Congenital Heart Disease require treatment each year than those with other significant conditions such as childhood cancer or cystic fibrosis.
  • Heart disease in children is the leading cause of child death in Australia, accounting for more than 30% of all deaths. In comparison to all childhood cancers, nearly twice as many children die each year from Congenital Heart Disease.
  • The severity of defects in heart children can range from a hole in the heart to a highly complex combination of conditions. More than half of these conditions need treatment through medication or surgery; some cannot be repaired. About a quarter of those requiring treatment will need surgery in the first year of life.

With the success of contemporary surgical procedures and improved survival, many patients with complex lesions are reaching adult life, and the population of adults with Congenital Heart Disease now exceeds the number of children with structural heart abnormality.