Early detection of heart defects in newborns can prevent complications after childbirth and increase survival rate.

This was affirmed by medical specialists at an international conference on obstetrics and gynecology held in Ho Chi Minh City on May 16.

Truong Ba Luu, an expert at the city's Pediatric Hospital No.2, said that diagnosis of heart defects in the prenatal period will help prevent complications during the mother's labour and after delivery.

Luu spoke at the 13th Vietnam/France/Asia-Pacific Conference on Obstetrics and Gynecology, organised by HCM City-based Tu Du Obstetrics Hospital in collaboration with the National College of French Gynecologists and Obstetricians and the French NGO, Gynecologists without Borders.

Worldwide, heart defects account for the highest percentage of defects detected before and after birth, he said.

Dr Vu Minh Phuc, head of the Paediatric Faculty at the Medicine and Pharmacy University , said that more than 800 infants in HCM City are born with heart defects each year.

More than 350 of them experience serious complications, and many of them die, Phuc said, adding that early detection and treatment will help reduce the fatality rate.

He also urged doctors to improve pre-natal counseling for parents.

Over the last decade, there have been significant advances in diagnosis and treatment of congenital heart defects, he said.

Dr Nguyen Thu Tinh of the Paediatric Faculty at the Medicine and Pharmacy University spoke about another problem that some pre-term babies face, lung disease.

He said that newborn resuscitation techniques have helped increase the rate of survival of pre-term babies.

Chronic lung disease in infants who are born prematurely is defined as a condition that requires oxygen and mechanical ventilation, he said.

If the problem is not addressed, oxygen dependency and an increased rate of hospitalisation could occur later, he added.

The two-day conference also heard presentations on diabetes in pregnancy, surgery for advanced vulvar cancer and radiotherapy for breast cancer, among other topics.

The conference each year attracts leading professors, doctors and experts from institutes and medical universities around the world.

Le Quang Thanh, head of Tu Du Hospital, said that diagnostic techniques and advanced treatments described and presented at the conference over the years have been applied by his hospital and other facilities worldwide.-VNA