What are the Facts?


Incidence of Childhood Heart Disease is far greater than most people expect. Although it comes as quite a shock to family and friends alike, an astounding Eight babies each day in Australia are born with heart disease! Cures remain predominantly unknown and little in general is known about the disease and its causes.

Common known facts about CHD include:

  • Heart defects are present in 1 in 100 babies
  • Heart defects are the most common birth abnormality
  • Heart disease in children is the leading cause of young children death in Australia, accounting for more than 30% of all childhood deaths.
  • Childhood Heart Disease takes more lives than all other childhood diseases combined
  • Nearly twice as many children die each year from congenital heart disease compared with all childhood cancers
  • Almost 3000 babies are born in Australia each year with a heart defect
  • Childhood heart disease is no fault of the parents or the child. It is simply a result of the cruel hand of fate
  • The severity of defects in heart children can range from a hole in the heart, to a highly complex combination of conditions
  • Up to 20% of heart defects are gene-linked abnormalities, but for the remaining 80% the cause is largely unknown
  • More than half of these conditions are serious enough to require treatment through medication or surgery – sadly some cannot be repaired
  • Cures of these heart conditions remains unidentified, therefore there is an immense need to develop early intervention strategies to identify and prevent heart disease in children
  • Heart disease is the most common reason for admission of Australian children to intensive care units with more than 1300 being admitted each year
  • The term ‘congenital heart defect’ refers to an abnormality of the heart, which is present at birth. It has nothing to do with diet or obesity
  • Heart valve replacements come in 3 forms: homographs (valves from humans) tissue valves (from cows or pigs) and mechanical man-made valves
  • Some children acquire heart conditions during childhood, eg cardiomyopathy, Kawasaki disease or as a result of rheumatic fever
  • A disproportionate number of indigenous children suffer from acquired heart disease – often as a result of rheumatic fever, which is rampant in many communities
  • The only Paediatric heart transplant unit in Australia is at The Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne
Sources: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Australian Bureau of Statistics American Heart Association

Detailed Online Heart Condition Resource

HeartKids is pleased to offer this online resource for people wishing to know more about the various heart conditions. The site includes details on tests, procedures and operations along with details on health and nutrition, exercise, schooling, adult congenital heart issues.

Children with Heart Conditions Booklet

A booklet answering some of the most common questions asked by Parents of children with Heart Disease.

Victoria & Tasmania