Little heads receive red hats

By: 
JENNA GILBERT
Staff Writer

February is Heart Health Month and the Joint Township District Memorial Hospital Birthing Center is giving all of the babies born this month a little red hat to bring awareness to congenital heart defects as part of the Little Hats, Big Hearts program with the American Heart Association.
“We’re raising awareness for congenital heart defects in newborns because it is important for people to understand that congenital heart defects can affect their newborn,” said Amy Becker, nurse manager at the birthing center. “One in every 1,000 babies are born with a congenital heart defect and these defects aren’t always detectable by routine assessments in the newborn nursery. There’s special testing that we do here for every baby before discharge to screen for congenital heart defects.”
The little red accessories were made by several members who volunteer at the hospital. According to Volunteer Development Coordinator Julie Jacobs, they aim to make around 40 hats for the month with the excess being shipped down to Dayton branches.
“This is a program through the American Heart Association that has kind of started through the Dayton branch,” Jacobs said. “And being part of the Dayton branch here, we decided to bring it up to our area. It’s the Little Hats, Big Hearts program for babies in the month of February to kind of promote heart health between moms and babies. What we do is our volunteers knit little red hats with little white hearts to kind of help promote that, remind moms to really listen to their doctors and take time to care of themselves and to take care of their babies.”
Jacobs said the hats take about an hour to make.
Although her baby wasn’t born in the month of February, Ashley Meeker who was bringing her son, Elliot, in for his one month check up, learned the importance of screening once she started having children. While none of her kids have had any heart defects detected, she said the screenings help keep the worry down.
“You know that things can change at any time,” she said. “You never know what is going to happen at the risk of your child and that just weighs heavy on my heart. You want your kids to grow up and nothing to be wrong or to happen. To keep up on the screenings and have them checked kind of releases that stress and worry.”
According to the hospital, congenital heart defects are structural problems that are present at birth. The defects are a result of mishaps that happen when the heart is developing. Severity of abnormalities can vary from “hole” in the heart to the complete absence of one or more valves and chambers.
For more information about the Little Hats, Big Heart program visit Heart.org/LittleHatsBigHearts.

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