Atrial Septal Defect


Condition Description

An atrial septal defect (ASD) is a congenital heart condition where there is a hole (defect) in the wall (septum) between the upper chambers of the heart (atria). In early fetal development, the heart starts out as a single tube that gradually differentiates into 4 chambers. Abnormalities can arise at several steps in the process, resulting in defects in the muscular wall that normally separate the atria.

An ASD may not be detected in childhood, but if it is large it is usually apparent by at least 30 years of age. Small ASDs may not be detected until later in life; they will often be detected because of heart enlargement and a specific sound of the heart (fixed split of the second heart sound). Children with symptomatic ASDs may fatigue easily, have rapid breathing with shortness of breath, and grow slowly.

Our program has been tracking atrial septal defect among live births in select counties since 2005 and gradually expanding statewide.

  • Using data from births to Hennepin and Ramsey county residents between 2007-2011, we found that 52.9 babies were born with atrial septal defect per 10,000 births.
  • Using this data, we estimate about 371 babies are born with atrial septal defect every year in Minnesota.

Additional Information

Condition Specific Parent Organizations:

Additional information and resources for families are available.