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Your Body: Heart defects in babies

iStock/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

Late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel recently shared a personal and gut-wrenching story with his audience: His newborn baby boy was born with a rare heart defect that required immediate heart surgery.

Many times congenital heart defects are picked up on a prenatal ultrasound. In those cases, an induction of labor for a controlled elective delivery -- with neonatal and surgical teams ready to go -- is often recommended. Other times, as in the case of Kimmel’s son, it presents itself in the immediate postpartum period, either in the delivery room or soon thereafter, with a baby who’s just not oxygenating well.

Assessment and treatment for babies with congenital heart disease needs to take place at medical centers with specialized teams of surgeons, neonatologists and other doctors and nurses.

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