DefinitionNumber of children born with tetralogy of Fallot per 10,000 live births to women residing in New Jersey in a specified time interval.
NumeratorNumber of children born with tetralogy of Fallot among live births to women residing in New Jersey in a specified time interval.
DenominatorCount of all live births to women residing in New Jersey in a specified time interval.
Why Is This Important?Tetralogy of Fallot is a defect involving problems with the heart's structure at birth. This defect changes the normal flow of blood through the heart. Tetralogy of Fallot is a defined to be the combination of four specific defects: (1) a hole in the wall between the ventricles (two lower chambers of the heart), called a ventricular septal defect; (2) narrowing of the tube that carries blood from the heart to the lungs, called pulmonary stenosis; (3) the aorta (the tube that carries oxygen-rich blood to the body) grows from both ventricles, rather than from the left ventricle only; and (4) a thickened muscular wall of the right ventricle, called right ventricular hypertrophy.
A specific cause for tetralogy of Fallot is unknown. Scientists generally agree that multiple causes seem to be involved. For example, mothers who experience rubella or other viral illnesses during pregnancy have a higher risk of having a baby with tetralogy of Fallot. In addition, scientists have found that mothers with poor nutrition, a history of alcohol use, or diabetes, or who are older than 40 years of age might have a higher risk for having a baby with tetralogy of Fallot. Other risks for this defect are thought to include: white race (there is a higher risk of tetralogy of Fallot among white babies than among babies of other races or ethnicities); and possibly exposure to carbon monoxide.