PreventionBy Mayo Clinic staff
In most cases, congenital heart defects, such as truncus arteriosus, can't be prevented. If you have a family history of heart defects or if you already have a child with a congenital heart defect, you and your partner may consider talking with a genetic counselor and a cardiologist experienced in congenital heart defects before you make a decision about becoming pregnant.
If you're thinking about becoming pregnant, there are several steps you can take to help ensure a healthy baby, including:
- Getting vaccinated before getting pregnant. Certain viruses, such as rubella (German measles), can be very harmful during pregnancy, so it's important to make sure your immunizations are up to date before you get pregnant.
- Avoiding dangerous medications. Check with your doctor before taking any medications if you're pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant. Many drugs aren't recommended for use during pregnancy.
- Taking folic acid. One of the few steps you can take to help prevent birth defects, including spinal cord, brain and possibly heart defects, is to take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily.
- Controlling diabetes. If you're a woman with diabetes, talk to your doctor about pregnancy risks associated with diabetes and how best to manage the disease during your pregnancy.
- Maldonado JA, et al. Congenital thoracic vascular anomalies. Radiologic Clinics of North America. 2010;48:85.
- Persistent truncus arteriosus. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/pediatrics/congenital_cardiovascular_anomalies/persistent_truncus_arteriosus.html#v1096866. Accessed Sept. 5, 2012.
- Doherty GM, ed. Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Surgery. 13th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2010. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=5215009. Accessed Sept. 5, 2012.
- What are congenital heart defects? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/chd/printall-index.html. Accessed Sept. 5, 2012.
- Truncus arteriosus. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/CongenitalHeartDefects/AboutCongenitalHeartDefects/Truncus-Arteriosus_UCM_307040_Article.jsp. Accessed Sept. 5. 2012.
- Congenital heart defects. March of Dimes. http://www.marchofdimes.com/baby/birthdefects_congenitalheart.html. Accessed Sept. 9, 2012.
- Infective endocarditis. The American Heart Associaton. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/CongenitalHeartDefects/TheImpactofCongenitalHeartDefects/Infective-Endocarditis_UCM_307108_Article.jsp. Accessed Sept. 9, 2012.