Little Hats, Big Hearts to raise awareness for congenital heart defects

The American Heart Association’s Little Hats, Big Hearts program will distribute little red hats to 23 regional hospitals in New York and Connecticut for February/American Heart Month to help raise awareness for congenital heart defects, the most common type of birth defect in the country. Every baby born at participating hospitals during February, an estimated 2,600 babies, will receive a little red hat.

Congenital heart defects are structural problems with the heart present at birth. 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 put a call out to knitting and crocheting enthusiasts in December, and little red hats came pouring in from all over the region. More than 2,600 hats were received in total. Local yarn shops donated red yarn and Fabricare Cleaners in Norwalk offered to wash and sanitize the hats.

“It was quite overwhelming to open the giant boxes of red hats, and read some of the notes sent with the donations. Some people were donating hats in memory of a child lost to CHD. Some knit red hats to honor a child’s life saved because of research or surgical advances,” said Lisa Neff, AHA community strategies director, “We’re so grateful for everyone’s generosity and support to help raise awareness for this issue.”

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. Thanks to AHA advocacy, laws were passed in CT and NYS to ensure that every baby born receives pulse-oximetry testing, which can help identify heart defects immediately after birth. The AHA also creates guidelines and trains parents, caregivers and medical professionals in infant and child CPR.

More information about the Little Hats, Big Heart program is online at or by contacting or 203-295-2954. Learn more about congenital heart defects at Parents of children with CHD may find support online at the AHA’s new Support Network at

About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – America’s No. 1 and No. 5 killers. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit or call any of our offices around the country.