In case you missed it, Jimmy Kimmel opened up about his son’s birth and diagnosis of a congenital heart disease in an emotional monologue on his show two weeks ago. A congenital heart defect is a structural problem in the heart that arises from an abnormal formation of the heart or major blood vessels.
Prior to the airing of this episode, many parents knew little or had never even heard of congenital heart disease, even though one percent of all babies are born with some type of congenital heart defect.
Congenital heart defects are present at birth and prevent the necessary amount of blood from being pumped into the lungs. This can result in low blood oxygen levels or a bluish discoloration of the skin, which is how Kimmel’s doctors detected his son’s heart defect just three hours after he was born. If not detected right away, most severe heart diseases become evident during the first few months after birth.
Kimmel’s son has a type of congenital heart disease called tetralogy of Fallot, which means there are four defects in the heart. Among the babies born with heart problems, 10 percent have tetralogy of Fallot. There are currently 17 other types of heart defects, with additional anatomic variations.
Like Kimmel’s son, a quarter of children born with heart defects will require immediate surgery, while others will likely need surgery later in life. Other defects can cause breathing difficulties, feeding problems and poor weight gain in infants. However, the vast majority of children have excellent outcomes from treatment.
Most cases of congenital heart disease are unexplained, though there has been research linking it to genetics. We hope that Kimmel’s video will help to raise awareness for congenital heart disease, and we’re so happy to have learned William is recovering well! ♥