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May 23/30, 2001

Incidence of Congenital Heart Disease

Author Affiliations

Stephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthorJody W.ZylkeMD, Contributing EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 2001;285(20):2579-2580. doi:10.1001/jama.285.20.2579

To the Editor: In their article about prospects for cardiovascular research, Drs Lefkowitz and Willerson1 state that, "l million infants are born each year with heart defects." This figure seems extraordinarily high. Estimates of the incidence of congenital heart disease in live newborns vary from 4.1/1000 to 12.3/1000.2 Assuming that approximately 4 million infants are born in the United States annually,3 this would represent between 16 200 and 49 200 new cases of congenital heart disease each year. Even including small ventricular septal defects that close spontaneously within the first year of life and clinically mild cases of bicuspid aortic valves and pulmonary stenosis, the highest incidence ever postulated is 8%, or 320 000 annually.2

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