Health Watch: Safer Pregnancies

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- People with congenital heart defects often talk about the concern of "passing on" the condition to their children.

"Do you want the green one, Alex?" MomVictoria Sines asked her son while playing. Sines like more than 1.5 million other Americans grew up with a congenital heart defect Marfan Syndrome caused her aorta to be enlarged.

Before she became pregnant, she didn't think she was ever going to be a mom. "When I found out I was pregnant with Alex," Sines said. "It changed everything."

It's a good and troubling trend. More women with heart defects survive, grow up and want to be moms. It's risky for them and their kids, doctors say. "For instance, your heart has to work about 50 percent harder, so pump 50 percent more blood during pregnancy at its peak," Dr. Jeff Chapa said. "So people who've had heart disease, their hearts may not be able to accommodate that extra load, and so that's where they can get into trouble."

A team of high-risk obstetricians, cardiologists and fetal medical specialists evaluates moms-to-be, and intensely monitors them throughout their pregnancies.

Victoria had Alex in the special delivery unit, right next to the hospital's heart unit, just in case. Spending her last six weeks of pregnancy in the hospital Victoria learned that Alex has Marfan Syndrome, too.

"He is the light of my life," Sines said "He is my miracle. He's changed everything for me. He's made everything so much better."
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