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Babies: Heart Diseases

Question for Department of Health

UIN 228926, tabled on 24 March 2015

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, how many babies were born with a hole in their heart in each of the last five years.

Answered on

26 March 2015

Information on the number of babies born with a hole in their heart is not collected centrally.

The following table provides information on the number of finished birth episodes where there was a primary or secondary diagnosis of a cardiac septal defect (where there is a hole between two of the heart's chambers) for the years 2009-10 to 2013-14. The table does not include babies where the condition was diagnosed after the birth episode.

Count of finished consultant (birth) episodes (FCEs)1 with a primary or secondary diagnosis2 of cardiac septal defects3, 2009-10 to 2013-144

Activity in English National Health Service hospitals and English NHS commissioned activity in the independent sector


Birth Episodes











Source: Hospital Episode Statistics (HES), Health and Social Care Information Centre



A FCE is a continuous period of admitted patient care under one consultant within one healthcare provider. FCEs are counted against the year in which they end. There is one FCE record per baby born in each delivery episode.

2Number of episodes in which the patient had a primary or secondary diagnosis

The number of episodes where this diagnosis was recorded in any of the 20 (14 from 2002-03 to 2006-07 and seven prior to 2002-03) primary and secondary diagnosis fields in a HES record. Each episode is only counted once, even if the diagnosis is recorded in more than one diagnosis field of the record.

3ICD-10 Codes

The term ‘hole in the heart’ does not exist in the ICD-10 classification. Instead, we have used the following ICD-10 coding:

Q21.- Congenital malformations of cardiac septa.

4Assessing growth through time (Admitted patient care)

HES figures are available from 1989-90 onwards. Changes to the figures over time need to be interpreted in the context of improvements in data quality and coverage (particularly in earlier years), improvements in coverage of independent sector activity (particularly from 2006-07) and changes in NHS practice. For example, apparent reductions in activity may be due to a number of procedures which may now be undertaken in outpatient settings and so no longer included in admitted patient HES data. Conversely, apparent increases in activity may be due to improved recording of diagnosis or procedure information.

HES include activity ending in the year in question and run from April to March, e.g. 2012-13 includes activity ending between 1 April 2012 and 31 March 2013.