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Newborns in red hats raising awareness about heart disease, congenital heart defects

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MILWAUKEE -- Newborns in hospitals across the country, and here in Wisconsin, are helping raise awareness about a deadly disease -- and it's all thanks to the help of thousands of volunteers.

“Little Hats, Big Hearts” The newborns in the nursery at the Aurora Women's Pavilion are wearing an important accessory during the month of February -- little red hats!

The American Heart Association started the Little Hats, Big Hearts campaign in 2014. The program raises awareness of heart disease, the number one killer of Americans, and congenital heart defects, the most common type of birth defect in the country.

"The sooner you make the diagnosis, the chance for survival increases dramatically," said Dr. Charles Potter, Aurora neonatologist.

It is Wisconsin law for newborns to get screened for congenital heart defects.

"If the baby is showing oxygenation, there is a very strong indication the baby does not have heart disease," said Dr. Potter.

“Little Hats, Big Hearts”

But the test will not always catch the disease.

"It can be missed, even by the best physicians and the best parents," said Dr. Potter.

The Little Hats, Big Hearts campaign outfits babies in hospitals across 40 states with knitted and crocheted red hats.

“Little Hats, Big Hearts”All of the hats are handmade by volunteers.

The Aurora Women's Pavilion received 450 of them. They're the second largest birthing center in the state.

"We're detecting those defects much sooner these days, which leads to treatment much sooner and then, you know, we don`t have kids discovering a defect years later in life when it's more of a tragedy," said Melissa Douglas, American Heart Association.

From medication to surgery, doctors say there is success treating even the tiniest cardiac patients if the disease is detected early.

Little Hats, Big Hearts runs through the month of February, American Heart Month. The American Heart Association is still accepting hat donations.

List of 2017 participating hospitals in Milwaukee, Wisconsin:

  • Aurora Health Care
  • Children's Hospital of Wisconsin
  • ProHealth Care
  • Froedtert Hospital
  • United Hospital System

“Little Hats, Big Hearts”


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