The most common heart conditions for children are congenital heart defects. So what is a congenital heart defect? A congenital heart defect is an anomaly in the structure of a child’s heart, usually diagnosed via ultrasound either in utero or after birth. Depending on how critical the defect, treatment could include surgery very soon after birth.

In this article, we will be discussing heart health awareness, specifically congenital heart defects, how it impacts families and how we as a community can help.

Family Impact

Much of what we discuss in this article can realistically apply to children with not only chronic heart conditions, but chronic illness as well.

Families of heart warriors can be impacted by seemingly the smallest things and can endure weeks of struggle as a result. For instance, sending your child to a playgroup or to school with the beginnings of a cold may sometimes seem ok because it’s only the sniffles and a little coughing. However, for a child with a congenital heart condition, contracting even the common cold may mean weeks in the hospital and severe complications.

Another huge impact on families is, unfortunately, unsolicited advice. Unsolicited advice can often times have a negative impact on family morale and can sometimes even be dangerous when it concerns medical procedure, choices or how to handle these conditions.

Instead, try asking questions to show momma and family that you care. Remember that parents of kiddos with congenital heart defects or other chronic conditions have been handling their child’s condition for sometimes many years and are well versed in the ins and outs of all matters concerning their disease.

It would be more beneficial to trust their doctors, trust the parents and offer your supportive presence rather than give unsolicited advice.

What Can We Do To Help?

We’re a community and we want to help! So, what can we do?

Here is a list of things that families taking care of kiddos with chronic conditions could find helpful and positive:

  • Bringing meals and snacks (don’t forget breakfast! Breakfast burritos anyone?)
  • Giving other children in the family rides to school functions or practices, especially any outside times where they would normally ride the bus
  • Lending a hand with any household chores that need doing
  • Offering understanding when a kiddo’s health trumps maybe the Christmas party or a birthday function that they have to miss
  • Continued help beyond the first few weeks and months and their child recovers from procedures and surgeries when the initial wave of help has subsided.
  • Planning functions and activities with their older kids. Sometimes, older kiddos feel left out or overlooked as months and years tend to drag on with sick little brother or sister in tow. Anything extra to make them feel special is always appreciated.

Where Can We Find More Information?

Want more information about congenital heart defects? Learn more at The Mayo Clinic here

Want to find a fellow heart warrior family? Visit Thirsties on Facebook or join the online community, Thirsties Groupies. And don’t forget to follow the Thirsties Instagram feed, @thirstiesinc

For more information, checkout Laura’s #ThirstiesLive all about juvenile congenital heart defects: