Funding for most common birth defect lags behind other illnesses

METROPOLIS, IL – Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defects in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 40,000 babies are born with CHD every year.

Yet, funding for research into why CHD occurs and how to better treat it lags behind other illnesses and diseases.

There is no cure for CHD, and it can mean more than just heart problems for your child. Twenty-five percent of people with CHD, like 2-year-old Jayce, are also living with physical, developmental, or cognitive disorders.

Jayce has hypothyroidism, autism, and is developmentally delayed. His mom, Alescia Gallatin, said he has a complete unbalanced AVSD, which is a certain type of CHD. His heart doesn’t work the way a normal heart does.

Gallatin said her son has had two open heart surgeries at just 2 years old. Before he was born, doctors knew something was wrong with his heart.

Congenital heart defects like the one Jayce has are 60 times more likely to occur than childhood cancer, but there is five times more funding for childhood cancer than CHD.

“So, many babies are passing away because of this. It’s sad,” Gallatin said. “If we would fund more, there could be a lot less children lost.” Gallatin said she worries that something else could go wrong, and research won’t have caught up.

Jayce still has a hole in his heart, and doctors said he will have to have a least another two open heart surgeries.

“That is my hero right there, because I would not be able to be as strong as he (is) during the surgeries,” said Gallatin. “I would be crying like a baby. He just sits up, smiles and acts like nothing is going on.”

Jayce fills her heart with hope for a healthier tomorrow. His mom said he will have to have at least two more surgeries.

Gallatin said his doctors predict he’ll live a healthy and pretty normal life.

CHD awareness week is from Feb. 7-14.

You can find out more information about this story and others by following Leah Shields on Facebook and Twitter.

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