Objective: To determine an accurate estimate of the prevalence of congenital heart defects (CHD) using current standard diagnostic modalities.
Study design: We obtained data on infants with CHD delivered during 1998 to 2005 identified by the Metropolitan Atlanta Congenital Defects Program, an active, population-based, birth defects surveillance system. Physiologic shunts in infancy and shunts associated with prematurity were excluded. Selected infant and maternal characteristics of the cases were compared with those of the overall birth cohort.
Results: From 1998 to 2005 there were 398 140 births, of which 3240 infants had CHD, for an overall prevalence of 81.4/10 000 births. The most common CHD were muscular ventricular septal defect, perimembranous ventricular septal defect, and secundum atrial septal defect, with prevalence of 27.5, 10.6, and 10.3/10 000 births, respectively. The prevalence of tetralogy of Fallot, the most common cyanotic CHD, was twice that of transposition of the great arteries (4.7 vs 2.3/10 000 births). Many common CHD were associated with older maternal age and multiple-gestation pregnancy; several were found to vary by sex.
Conclusions: This study, using a standardized cardiac nomenclature and classification, provides current prevalence estimates of the various CHD subtypes. These estimates can be used to assess variations in prevalence across populations, time, or space.