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Current Pediatric Cardiovascular Research

Current Pediatric Cardiovascular Research

Congenital heart malformations are the most common type of birth defect, with an incidence rate among live births of nearly 1%. Congenital heart disease (CHD) affects more children each year than pediatric cancer and pediatric AIDS combined. Only 30 years ago, the most severe CHD defects, such as hypoplastic left heart syndrome, were untreatable and universally fatal. However, groundbreaking research from centers like the University of Michigan has led to dramatic improvements in outcome for these types of severe CHD. Similar improvements have occurred across the spectrum of cardiac malformations resulting in an estimated one million adult survivors of CHD in the United States. While survival remains paramount, research efforts have now turned to a more patient and family-centered focus to maximize other quality of life outcomes, including growth, neurodevelopment, physical and functional capacity, behavior and social adjustment, and minimizing the impact on the family.

We now appreciate the need to understand how all these components impact overall outcomes, but there is a lack of hard data to guide us on how to optimize treatment, and educate parents and children to best enhance their long-term well being. Thus, a new paradigm is necessary, whereby novel ways of linking outcomes and basic science research to treatment interact in a self-perpetuating loop, resulting in optimal patient outcomes.

Improving Outcomes through Research