Many community members and local hospitals have gotten involved in the “Little Hats, Big Hearts" campaign, organized by the American Heart Association (AHA), to help bring attention to congenital heart defects.
The AHA, in connection with The Children's Heart Foundation, is offering the “Little Hats, Big Hearts” program for the second year in a row locally.
Thousands of little red hats are being delivered to 26 regional hospitals in New York and Connecticut during February, American Heart Month, to help raise awareness for congenital heart defects, or CHD, the most common type of birth defect in the country.
Every baby born at participating hospitals this month will receive a little red hat, and parents will receive healthy lifestyle educational information, according to a release from AHA.
The AHA received donations from more than 100 volunteer knitting and crocheting enthusiasts in the community to help raise awareness for CHD during Congenital Heart Defects Awareness Week, Feb. 7 – 14.
Heart disease, the number-one killer of American men and women. Congenital heart defects are structural problems with the heart present at birth, according to the AHA.They result when a mishap occurs during heart development soon after conception and often before the mother is aware that she is pregnant. Defects range in severity from simple problems, such as "holes" between chambers of the heart, to very severe malformations, such as complete absence of one or more chambers or valves, the AHA said.
The AHA put a call out to knitting and crocheting enthusiasts in December, and little red hats came pouring in from all over the region.
Approximately 2,500 hats will be distributed. Local yarn shops donated red yarn, and Fabricare Cleaners in Norwalk and Red Cap Cleaners in Poughkeepsie donated their services to wash and sanitize the hats.
“We hear these heart-warming stories shared by some of the knitters who were donating hats in memory of a child lost to CHD, or happier, one who lived," said AHA spokesperson Carolyn Torella. "The American Heart Association funds pediatric research and we offer healthy lifestyle programs for children in schools throughout the county. We’re so grateful for the community’s generosity and support to help raise awareness for children’s heart health.”
The American Heart Association is committed to raising awareness for CHD, and helping children live stronger lives through education, research and public policies.
In fact, the organization’s funding for pediatric cardiac research is second only to the federal government, according to the release.
Thanks to AHA advocacy, laws were passed in Connecticut and New York State to ensure that every baby born receives pulse-oximetry testing, which can help identify heart defects immediately after birth, the release said.
The AHA also creates guidelines for, and trains parents, caregivers and medical professionals in infant and child CPR.
More information about the Little Hats, Big Hearts program can be found online at www.heart.org/littlehatsbighearts or by contacting the AHA at (845) 867-5374.