Congenital heart disease is often regarded as a chance occurrence affecting only a small number of children. In fact, it affects nearly 1 in 100 newborn infants1,2 and is the leading non-infectious cause of death in this age group. A third of those affected will need surgical or catheter-based intervention in the first year of life. In 2002, congenital heart disease accounted for 224 deaths in Australian children.2 In the United States there are more than 35 000 new cases each year and over 1 million survivors of congenital heart disease in the community.3
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