BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Kids suffering from cardiovascular disease may seem rare, but they often require the care of a pediatric subspecialist like those found only at Children's of Alabama. Congenital heart disease (CHD) is not contagious — one cannot catch it like you can the flu or a cold — but it is common, affecting about 40,000 births per year in the United States, or about one percent of all births.
In fact, CHD kills more children each year than all the cancers combined and is the top killer of children born with developmental abnormalities. Survival of infants with CHD and other congenital defects depends on how severe the defect is, when it is diagnosed and how it is treated. Children with CHD are about 50 percent more likely to receive special education services compared to children without birth defects.
"Heart disease in children certainly occurs less frequently than in adults," said Dr. Yung Lau, a pediatric electrophysiologist at Children's and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). "However it is the most common birth defect, and while most of these children are found during infancy, in a significant number of children the symptoms of heart disease may develop later in childhood and teenage years. Our team of over 250 members specializing in treating children with heart disease feel very fortunate to care for these children at one of the best facilities in the U.S., and we are thrilled that during the month of February, heart month, the public will have multiple opportunities to learn more about Children's clinic and research programs, which will raise the awareness about pediatric and congenital heart disease."
In addition to the medical costs of care for CHDs, families of children with CHDs can face other costs, such as lifestyle changes, emotional stress, family uncertainty and being unable to return to work in order to care for their child.
Children's Pediatric and Congenital Heart Center of Alabama had more than 455 inpatient admissions last year, and staff performed more than 325 cardiopulmonary bypass surgeries and more than 575 cardiac catheterizations. Each of these procedures represents a child with a critical health need.
Join Children's of Alabama this February as they celebrate National Heart Month and the child heroes in our care through the following events:
- Spectrum (formerly Charter Cable) will run public service announcements about pediatric cardiovascular disease throughout February.
- Children’s will host the Journey of the Heart Cardiovascular Workshop to enhance the understanding of children with congenital and acquired heart disease at its Russell Campus on Friday, Feb. 12. Seating is limited. Contact Paula Midyette at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
- The annual Music & Miracles Radiothon will broadcast live from the Dothan Walmart, 3300 S. Oates St., Dothan, AL 36301, on Feb. 10 and 11 from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. The public is invited to participate by tuning in to 95.5 (WTVY-FM) during the broadcast or by visiting Walmart during the event. Families also are invited to Walmart to share their own Children’s stories.
- Children’s Russell Building will be illuminated in red in honor of National Heart Month throughout February.
- Children’s website will feature a variety of videos about some of the young patients being treated for cardiovascular disease. The public is invited to visit www.childrensal.org/heart to donate online and meet these remarkable youngsters.
- By starting heart-healthy habits right now, kids can reduce the chance they will ever need to worry about cardiovascular disease. Visit www.childrensal.org/heart for a complete list of heart-healthy tips.
- The public is invited to share its stories of patients who have fought heart-related illness and injury at www.childofchildrens.org.
- Children’s Facebook page, Twitter feed, blog and YouTube channel will feature patient stories that spotlight patients, families and staff all month.
- Kendra Scott (225 Summit Blvd., Suite 101, Birmingham, AL 35243) is hosting a Give Back Night on Thursday, Feb. 18. The event runs from 5–8 p.m. Children’s Pediatric and Congenital Heart Center of Alabama will receive a percentage of sales from that night.
- Dorothy McDaniel’s Flower Market (3300 3rd Ave. S., Birmingham, AL 35222) will create a signature floral arrangement that will be available online for the month of February. A percentage from each floral arrangement will benefit the Pediatric and Congenital Heart Center of Alabama.
- The Walmart Supercenter in Alabaster (630 Colonial Promenade Pkwy., Alabaster, AL 35007) will host a Heart Health Awareness Fair on Feb. 27.
- The Photogenic Baby Contest at The Summit babyGap (240 Summit Blvd., Birmingham, AL 35243). Visit www.photogenicbaby.com for details.
In an ongoing effort to ensure that students and staff in Alabama schools are well-equipped with and trained to use automated external defibrillators (AEDs), Alabama LifeStart recently named 15 new schools as "HeartSafe Schools." These schools are being honored throughout February for agreeing to incorporate training on the devices into their health or physical education curricula. The training and the installation of a second AED will improve the school's ability to respond quickly and effectively to sudden cardiac arrest. School nurses will conduct the training. The following schools will be receiving a free AED from Alabama LifeStart:
- Butler County Innovation School, Greenville
- East Limestone High School, Athens
- Athens Bible School, Athens
- Prattville Christian Academy, Prattville
- Midfield High School, Midfield
- Montevallo High School, Montevallo
- Fairfield High Preparatory, Fairfield
- Gadsden City High School, Gadsden
- Greenville High School, Greenville
- Williamson High School, Mobile
- Good Hope High School, Good Hope
- Brewer High School, Somerville
- Decatur Christian Heritage Academy, Decatur
- Buckhorn High School, Buckhorn
- Georgiana School, Georgiana