As so little is known about the causes of congenital heart disease, there's no guaranteed way of avoiding having a baby with the condition.
However, if you're pregnant, the following advice can help reduce the risk:
- Ensure you are vaccinated against rubella and flu.
- Avoid drinking alcohol or taking medication.
- Take 400 micrograms of folic acid supplement a day during the first trimester (first 12 weeks) of your pregnancy – this lowers your risk of giving birth to a child with congenital heart disease, as well as several other types of birth defect.
- Check with your GP or pharmacist before you take any medicine during pregnancy, including herbal remedies and medicine that's available over the counter.
- Avoid contact with people who are known to have an infection.
- If you have diabetes, make sure it's controlled.
- Avoid exposure to organic solvents, such as those used in dry cleaning, paint thinners and nail polish remover.