Bridgeport Hospital is partnering with the American Heart Association for the “Little Hats, Big Hearts” program during American Heart Month in February to help raise awareness of congenital heart defects (CHD), the most common type of birth defect in the country. Every baby born at Bridgeport Hospital during February, estimated to be nearly 200, will receive a little red hat. Parents also receive heart health information for their family.
Congenital heart defects are structural problems with the heart present at birth. They result when a mishap occurs during heart development soon after conception and often before the mother is aware that she is pregnant. Defects range in severity from simple problems, such as holes between chambers of the heart, to very severe malformations, such as complete absence of one or more chambers or valves.
The AHA put a call out to knitting and crocheting enthusiasts in December, and thousands of hand-crafted little red hats came pouring in from all over the region. Some parents of children born with congenital heart defects sent hats in, as well. Some donated hats in memory of those lost to heart defects. Nearly 3,200 hats were donated to the AHA’s Little Hats Big Hearts program in Connecticut this year.
The American Heart Association is committed to raising awareness for CHD, and helping children live stronger lives through education, research and public policies. In fact, the organization’s funding for pediatric cardiac research is second only to the federal government. Thanks to AHA advocacy, laws were passed in Connecticut and New York to ensure that every baby born receives pulse-oximetry testing, which can help identify heart defects immediately after birth. The AHA also creates guidelines for, and trains parents, caregivers and medical professionals in infant and child CPR.
More information about the Little Hats, Big Heart program is online at www.heart.org/littlehatsbighearts. Learn more about congenital heart defects at www.heart.org/CHD. Parents of children with CHD may find support online at the AHA’s new Support Network at http://supportnetwork.heart.org/congenital-heart-disease.