red hat 3Robbinsville, NJ - The American Heart Association | American Stroke Association has partnered with three New Jersey hospitals--The Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, Community Medical Center, a Barnabas Health facility in Toms River and Cape Regional Medical Center in Cape May Court House, with the “Little Hats, Big Hearts” program. This initiative will provide 300 new moms a hand-made red infant cap during February/American Heart Month to celebrate heart health while raising awareness of congenital heart defects (CHD), the most common type of birth defect in the country. Additionally, the effort is aimed to empower new moms to take charge of their own wellbeing while starting a healthy lifestyle for the entire family.

In addition to the hand-made hat, each mom will receive a health packet which includes tips on raising healthy children, works outs to do at home, an American Heart Association cookbook, as well as information on congenital heart defect.

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 American Heart Association put a call out to knitting and crocheting enthusiasts in December and January, and little red hats came pouring in from all over the state.  The initial goal of 300 hats was well surpassed, with the American Heart Association receiving nearly 900 hats. The additional hats will be used in May and next February to continue building the importance of heart health with new parents across the state.

red hat 1“It was quite overwhelming to open the giant boxes of hand knitted red hats, and read some of the notes sent with the donations. Some people were donating hats in memory of a child lost to Congenital Heart Disease while some knitted red hats were donated to honor a child whose life was saved because of funded research or surgical advances,” said Bill Thompsen, Senior Vice President of Health Strategies at the American Heart Association | American Stroke Association in NJ. “We are so grateful for everyone’s generosity and support to help raise awareness for this important 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 efforts of the American Heart Association | American Stroke Association, New Jersey law requires hospitals and other birth facilities to administer a pulse-oximetry test to each baby 24 hours after birth, which can help identify heart defects. The American Heart Association also creates guidelines and trains parents, caregivers and medical professionals CPR specifically for infants and children.

More information about the Little Hats, Big Heart program in NJ, visit www.heart.org/njlittlehatsbighearts or calling 609.208.0020.