Babies born at Lakeland celebrate American Heart Month by wearing red knit hats

ST. JOSEPH — Volunteers for the American Heart Association and Lakeland Health are celebrating American Heart Month by knitting red hats for all babies born at southwest Michigan area hospitals in February.

“The Little Hats, Big Heart” project 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 and the leading killer of infants with birth defects.

Volunteers from across Michigan have knitted nearly 4,000 hats that will be given to all babies born at 23 of the state’s hospitals during the month of February. After the hats arrive, volunteers make sure the hats are washed, sorted and individually packaged with health information for moms and babies, and then sent back out to area hospital birthing units. The Children’s Heart Foundation is a national sponsor of the project.

While all babies at participating hospitals are expected to receive a Little Hat, some of those infants have very special hearts. 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. CHD affects approximately one in every 125 babies every year in the United States alone. Michigan’s Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week will take place from Feb. 7 to Feb. 14, during American Heart Month.

The American Heart Association is second only to the federal government in funding cardiovascular and stroke research, including congenital heart defects. For those wishing to contribute little red hats for 2019, information is available at heart.org/LittleHatsBigHearts. Parents receiving hats are encouraged to post photos at #LittleHatsMI.

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