Raising awareness for congenital heart defects

Grand Lake Health System hosts Little Red Hats program

ST. MARYS — Grand Lake Health System is partnering with the American Heart Association for the “Little Hats, Big Hearts” program during February, American Heart Month, to help raise awareness for congenital heart defects, the most common type of birth defect in the country.

Every baby born at Joint Township District Memorial Hospital during February will receive a little red hat.

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 of the chambers or valves.

The AHA put a call out to knitting and crocheting enthusiasts in December, and 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.

The volunteers of the Grand Lake Health System joined in the call for hat makers also. All the hats that will be distributed to babies born at JTDMH were made by JTDMH volunteers.

To find out more about knitting hats for babies, contact the volunteer department, at 419-394-3387 ext 2808.

“Every baby born at Joint Township District Memorial Hospital is screened for congenital heart defects before discharge,” said Registured Nurse Amy Becker, Birthing Center Clinical Coordinator. “This non-invasive, painless test measures how much oxygen is in the blood and can help identify babies that may be affected with CHD before they leave the hospital.

“We are so thankful to the volunteers of JTDMH for providing hats for our little ones to help increase awareness for this serious condition.”

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 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 www.supportnetwork.heart.org.

Grand Lake Health System hosts Little Red Hats program