DefinitionTetralogy of Fallot is a problem with the heart's structure that is present at birth. This defect changes the normal flow of blood through the heart. Tetralogy of Fallot is a combination of four defects:
-A hole in the wall between the ventricles (two lower chambers of the heart), called a ventricular septal defect.
-Narrowing of the tube that carries blood from the heart to the lungs, called pulmonary stenosis.
-The aorta (the tube that carries oxygen-rich blood to the body) grows from both ventricles, rather than from the left ventricle only.
-A thickened muscular wall of the right ventricle, called right ventricular hypertrophy.
Prevalence of tetralogy of Fallot is the number of live-born infants with tetralogy of Fallot per 10,000 live born infants. (Live-born infants are the infants born with any evidence of life).
NumeratorNumber of live-born infants with tetralogy of Fallot.
DenominatorNumber of live-born infants.
Data Interpretation IssuesIn January 2000, birth defects became a reportable condition in New Mexico; however, birth defects were collected prior to this date. The first year of consistent data is 1998. However, data for tetralogy of Fallot were not collected consistently until 2004. For tetralogy of Fallot data, the most recent year of analyzed data is 2011.
Data are collected on live births occurring in-state to NM residents. Therefore, live births that occur in NM among out-of-state residents are excluded.
Case finding/identification occurs through review of birth and death certificates, hospital discharge diagnoses, records from pediatric specialists and prenatal diagnostic providers.
Birth defect cases are ascertained up to age 4; however, the majority of diagnoses are made by age 1.
Why Is This Important?Birth defects pose a significant public health problem. One in 33 babies is born with a structural birth defect in the United States. Birth defects are a leading cause of infant mortality and responsible for considerable morbidity with enormous economic and social costs.
Infants and young children with tetralogy of Fallot often have blue- or purplish-looking skin color, called cyanosis, because of oxygen-poor blood.
At birth, infants might not have blue-looking skin, but later might develop sudden episodes (called "Tet spells") of bluish skin during crying or feeding.
Many babies with this condition will have to have surgery to correct it. Babies who have surgery usually do well. Unfortunately, without surgery, death usually occurs before the person reaches 20 years of age.
Following are just a few of the issues that people with tetralogy of Fallot might have to face.
-Children with this condition might need to limit their physical activity, especially in competitive sports.
-People with tetralogy of Fallot are at increased risk for developing endocarditis (an infection of the inner layer of the heart).
-People with repaired tetralogy of Fallot have a higher risk of heart rhythm disturbances, called arrhythmias. Sometimes these can cause dizziness or fainting. Medicine or medical procedures might be needed to address these issues.
-People with tetralogy of Fallot can have delayed growth and development.
-People with tetralogy of Fallot can have seizures during periods when insufficient oxygen is being carried in the blood.
Other ObjectivesCDC Environmental Public Health Tracking, Nationally Consistent Data and Measures (EPHT NCDM)
How Do We Compare With the U.S.?The national prevalence of tetralogy of Fallot among births from 2004-2006 is 3.97 per 10,000 births.These data come from 14 birth defects surveillance programs: Arkansas, Arizona, California [8-county Central Valley], Colorado, Georgia [5-county metropolitan Atlanta], Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Texas, and Utah. For more information, please see: