This February, thousands of babies across the country will be donning matching red knit hats, each of them made with lots of love. And you can help make one of them!

Little Hats Big Hearts, a special project organized by the American Heart Association, started in Chicago in 2014. During that first year, volunteers knit enough red hats to give to 300 newborn babies. Now, over 40 states participate in the annual event!

The project is meant to spread public awareness about congenital heart defects, while serving as an adorable reminder for new parents about the importance of their own heart health, as Heart & Stroke month fast approaches.

How to Volunteer

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volunteer red hat babies

Visit the Little Hats Big Hearts homepage to search for the nearest drop-off location in your state (or nearby state). Even if you aren’t able to knit or crochet, you can still help by making a monetary donation to the project on the website or simply text HAT to 41444. Volunteers living outside of the United States can mail their creations to the following address:

Anne Schullo
American Heart Association
208 South LaSalle, Suite 1500
Chicago, IL 60604
USA

Choose A Pattern!

For the knitters and crocheters who just can’t wait to get started, you can save one of these patterns to start your project of love (note, please avoid the use of bows, buttons, etc to keep the babies safe!). Please use red medium or heavy weight acrylic or cotton yarn so that they can be machine washed and dried.

Learn More About Congenital Heart Disease

Affecting about 1 in every 100 newborns, congenital heart disease is a broad term for a number of different types of heart defects present at birth. These defects can include obstruction of blood flow, holes in the heart, and low blood oxygen levels, for instance. In many cases, a doctor can diagnose congenital heart disease even before the baby is born. Common symptoms include (1):

  • A heart murmur
  • A bluish tint to skin, lips, and fingernails (“blue baby”)
  • Fast breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Poor feeding, especially in infants because they tire easily while nursing
  • Poor weight gain in infants
  • Fatigue during exercise or activity (in older children).

In the last 60 years, children born with congenital heart disease have a vastly improved prognosis. While the survival rate used to be about 20%, today more than 90% of children with a congenital heart disease live through adulthood, thanks to a better understanding of the conditions, better diagnosis, better treatment and long-term care. Every child is unique and can experience a range of health concerns as they age, so understanding their condition and communicating with a cardiologist throughout their life is important.

Continue Reading: New Research: Restless Leg Syndrome Linked to Heart Related Death In Women

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