Congenital heart defects (CHD) are the most common birth defects in newborns, with a prevalence rate in the Netherlands of 7-8 per 1000 live births per year. Prenatal screening has led to early detection of approximately one third of CHD, and consequently to increased rates of terminations of pregnancy. Although, due to medical and surgical improvements, the majority of these children reach adulthood, CHD are still the most frequent cause of infant death related to birth defects. Unfortunately, in only about 15 percent of cases a cause can be identified. These CHD are caused by genetic or environmental factors. The remaining cases are thought to be complex and multifactorial. Studies on the etiology of CHD are needed to increase our knowledge and reveal possible underlying mechanisms and pathways. Hopefully, this will lead to the implementation of preventative measures in the future.

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Financial support kindly provided by Erasmus MC Rotterdam, J.E. Jurriaanse Stichting, ShipSoft, Goodlife, MSD B.V., Bayer Schering, Sorg-Saem Leerhuis, Albert Schweitzer Ziekenhuis Dordrecht, Olympus Nederland B.V., Astellas Pharma, Abbott B.V., HOLOGIC Benelux B.V., BMA B.V. (Mosos), Medical Dynamics Vifor, Pharma Drost, Loosdrecht B.V.
E.A.P. Steegers (Eric)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

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