Risk factorsBy Mayo Clinic staff
It's not known why atrial septal defects occur, but congenital heart defects appear to run in families and sometimes occur with other genetic problems, such as Down syndrome. If you have a heart defect, or you have a child with a heart defect, a genetic counselor can estimate the odds that any future children will have one.
When the following conditions occur during pregnancy, they can increase your risk of having a baby with a heart defect:
- Rubella infection. Becoming infected with rubella (German measles) while pregnant can increase the risk of fetal heart defects.
- Drug or alcohol use or exposure to certain substances. Use of certain medications, alcohol or drugs, such as cocaine, during pregnancy can harm the developing fetus.
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