Congenital Heart Defects: Pregnancy
Both women and men who have a congenital heart defect need to think about a few things when planning a pregnancy. These include the risks of passing a heart defect to your child as well as the possible health risks of a pregnancy for a woman who has a heart defect.footnote 1, footnote 2, footnote 3
Plan a pregnancy
If you are thinking of becoming pregnant and you or your partner has a congenital heart defect, there are a couple of things to think about.
- Think about talking with a genetic counsellor about the risk of passing a heart defect to your child.
- If you are a woman who has a congenital heart defect, ask your doctor if being pregnant might cause any health problems. Pregnancy may raise certain health risks, so your doctor will check your health during pregnancy. And your doctor can help you stay healthy while you are pregnant.
Work with your doctor
If you have a congenital heart defect, your pregnancy may be considered high-risk. Specific issues will need to be addressed with your doctor, such as:
- Whether it is safe to become pregnant.
- The timing and method of delivery.
- The type of anesthesia or medicines that are safe to use during labour.
- How you will be monitored throughout your pregnancy.
- Whether you need to stop taking certain medicines.
- Whether you need to take antibiotics to prevent endocarditis.
- Whether you need to take blood thinners (anticoagulants) to prevent blood clots.
Health care during and after pregnancy
You may have a cardiologist involved with your care throughout your pregnancy and delivery.
A fetal echocardiogram can be done as early as 16 to 18 weeks of pregnancy to check for congenital heart defects in the fetus. Other testing, such as chorionic villus sampling or amniocentesis, may be done.
- Sable C, et al. (2011). Best practices in managing transition to adulthood for adolescents with congenital heart disease: The transition process and medical and psychosocial issues: A scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation, 123(13): 1454-1485.
- Warnes CA, et al. (2008). ACC/AHA 2008 Guidelines for the management of adults with congenital heart disease: Executive summary: A report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. Circulation, 118(23): 2395-2451.
- Canobbio MM, et al. (2017). Management of pregnancy in patients with complex congenital heart defects: A scientific statement for healthcare professionals from the American Heart Association. Circulation, 135(8): e50-e87. DOI: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000458. Accessed March 2, 2017.
Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Donald Sproule, MDCM, CCFP - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
Elizabeth T. Russo, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Larry A. Latson, MD - Pediatric Cardiology
Stephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology
Current as ofMay 31, 2017
Current as of: May 31, 2017
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: John Pope, MD - Pediatrics & Donald Sproule, MDCM, CCFP - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & Elizabeth T. Russo, MD - Internal Medicine & Larry A. Latson, MD - Pediatric Cardiology & Stephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology
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