Congenital Heart Defects

girl making heart symbol with fingers

Finding out your child has congenital heart disease, commonly called a congenital “heart defect,” can be frightening. You’re probably worried, stressed, and filled with questions about what the diagnosis really means. Nemours’ top-notch pediatric cardiologists will help ease your concerns and give you the congenital heart defect answers you need.

 
Read More About Congenital Heart Defects

Congenital heart disease is actually fairly common. In fact, more than 35,000 babies are born with a heart defect each year in the United States. Most (about two-thirds of) children with heart disease have a “congenital” heart defect, when a baby is born with a heart problem because the heart didn’t develop normally or completely in the early weeks of pregnancy. Other children may have something called an “acquired” heart condition, when a heart problem develops at some point between infancy and adolescence.

We Can Help

If your child was born with a heart defect, a lot can be done to improve and often completely repair kids’ hearts at any age. Thanks to advanced technology and our expert cardiology teams at Nemours, your child — even a newborn only hours old — can be quickly detected and treated right when it matters the most. You can count on our experts to give you an accurate, swift diagnosis and advanced treatment.

We’ve assembled some of the country’s very best pediatric cardiac expertise and technology, and we specialize in early detection and repair, so your child will have the very best possible chance for a healthy future.

Understanding Congenital Heart Defects

When your child has a heart condition, learning as much as you can about the problem can help make things much less stressful and scary for you, your child, and your whole family. Understanding what the defect can help you talk to your child about what it all means and what to expect from treatment. Plus, the more you know, the more informed you can be to make educated decisions about — and be a better advocate for — your child’s health care.

Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, Wilmington


1600 Rockland Road
Wilmington, DE 19803
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Phone: (302) 651-4200

Hours: Monday - Friday:
8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

 
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What to Bring
  • photo ID
  • medical and pharmacy insurance cards
  • preferred pharmacy name and phone number
  • names and dosage of all medications, including over-the-counter medication, your child is currently taking
  • guardianship and custody papers, if a legal guardian rather than a parent accompanies your child
New Patients

Bring these forms for your first appointment:

Returning Patients
 
Forms & Resources
New Patient Forms
Returning Patient Forms
Resources for Patients & Families
  • Ronald McDonald House of Delaware: a safe, free, family-centered home away from home when your child is sick and needs to be hospitalized
  • CaringBridge: a free site offering support and communication to help your family through your child's medical journey

Our pediatric cardiologists at the Nemours Cardiac Center are experts in diagnosing and treating children with interrupted aortic arch and other congenital heart defects. Located in the Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, Nemours Cardiac Center’s heart care for children has been ranked among the nation’s best in pediatric cardiology and cardiac surgery by U.S. News & World Report. And families come from across the country and around the world for our renowned pediatric heart care.

 
A Children’s Heart Care Center to Call Your Own

Our state-of-the-art Nemours Cardiac Center features a 14-bed cardiac intensive care unit (CICU), an 18-bed nursing unit for children who require less intensive care, and a digital cardiac catheterization and electrophysiology suite.

Our cardiac center also has its own operating room, used exclusively for pediatric cardiac surgery and staffed by a highly skilled team of:

  • pediatric cardiologists (children’s heart doctors)
  • pediatric cardiothoracic surgeons (who specialize in operating on children’s hearts and chests)
  • pediatric cardiac nurses
  • pediatric anesthesiologists (who work exclusively in the Nemours Cardiac Center)

Everyone on our team works only with heart patients, so you’ll know your child is getting specialized attention and being treated by true experts experienced in the field. Working as a team, we make sure you have a complete understanding of your child’s condition and treatment options – and what to expect every step of the way.

Learn More About Everything Our Nemours Cardiac Center Has to Offer »

 
Detecting Congenital Heart Defects Early

Most children with heart conditions are born with congenital heart defects. And the sooner they can be diagnosed and repaired, the better. You can count on our pediatric cardiology specialists to give you an accurate, swift diagnosis, using the very latest, most advanced technologies.
Learn More About Our Comprehensive Diagnostic Tests »

Diagnosing Congenital Heart Defects Before Birth

Many congenital heart defects can be diagnosed while babies are still developing in the womb (before birth) or soon after birth. Thanks to our highly skilled team and advanced technology, most infant heart defects can be treated right away, even in newborns only hours old. Our diagnostic team and fetal cardiologists will work together with our Nemours Partners for Perinatal Management Program and your obstetrician/gynecologist (OB-GYN) and/or perinatologist (a doctor who specializes in high-risk pregnancies) to help you understand your baby’s condition and prepare for care after the birth.
Learn More About Nemours Partners for Perinatal Management »

 
Leaders in Surgical and Non-Surgical Treatments

Our heart surgeons are at the very forefront of pediatric cardiology, contributing to the ongoing advances in pediatric heart surgery. In recent decades, remarkable progress has been made in the surgical management of pediatric heart disease. In fact, surgery can help virtually all young patients with structural heart abnormalities. Early repair of structural defects can prevent further damage to your baby’s heart and allow it to begin functioning normally as soon as possible, giving your child the very best chance of a healthy future.
Learn More About Comprehensive, Advanced Heart Surgery »

Advanced Non-Surgical and Combination Treatments

We always strive to minimize the number of operations our young patients need. So our cardiac team provides first-class open-heart surgery, as well as advanced non-surgical approaches like cardiac catheterization (when a thin plastic, flexible tube, called a “catheter,” is inserted into a blood vessel in the leg that leads to the heart). Cardiac catheterization may be used for the diagnosis or treatment of your child’s heart condition. If your child needs a catheterization, the procedure can be performed by one of our cardiologists at any time of the day or night in our state-of-the-art digital cardiac catheterization suite.
Learn More About Cardiac Catheterization »

In some complex cases, members of our team work together to perform both open-heart surgery and interventional catheterization (sometimes called “therapeutic catheterization”) procedures in the same setting. By offering this kind of combined treatment option (typically called a “hybrid procedure”), we’re improving the outlook for scores of children with less discomfort, faster recovery time, and shorter hospital stays. And we’re proud to be one of only a mere handful of centers in the U.S. where these combo treatment capabilities are available.

 
Understanding Congenital Heart Defects

When your child has a heart condition, learning as much as you can about the problem can help make things much less stressful and scary for you, your child, and your whole family. Understanding what the defect can help you talk to your child about what it all means and what to expect from treatment. Plus, the more you know, the more informed you can be to make educated decisions about — and be a better advocate for — your child’s health care.

 
Pediatric Cardiac Care Throughout Our Community

You may choose to see our pediatric cardiologists at the Nemours Cardiac Center. Or, you can meet with our specialists at other Nemours locations in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. We take our skills and expertise to clinics and hospitals throughout our community – making it easier for children and families who need our help to get top-quality pediatric cardiology care.

Whatever kind of congenital heart defect your child may have, know that at Nemours we do whatever it takes to give your child the very best, most comprehensive and compassionate care possible. We treat every child as we would our own — your child, our promise.