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B. Increasing The Odds of Surviving A Lethal Heart Defect

Narrator: This is Science Today. Newborns with a relatively common and lethal heart disorder called hypoplastic left heart syndrome have better odds of surviving post-birth surgery if there's a prenatal diagnosis of the defect. Dr. Wayne Tworetzky of the University of California, San Francisco says finding the abnormally small left heart ventricle during a prenatal ultrasound gives doctors a head start in treatment after birth.

Tworetzky: The main problem with children diagnosed after birth is that a small blood vessel which connects the pulmonary artery and the aorta normally closes after birth and in these children, once that vessel closes, they are not getting any blood flow to their vital organs and they become extremely ill.

Narrator: This is the first study to show that prenatal diagnosis of this condition resulted in an improved outcome.

Twortezky: People have looked at this in the past and have not seen a difference between those diagnosed prenatally and postnatally, but one would expect there to be a difference because it makes sense that healthier children should do better in complex surgery.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.