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America’s #1 Birth Defect

America’s #1 Birth Defect

Denise Zolla Pizzo, LMT

February is behind us now, however the importance of National Congenital Heart Defects Awareness week (2/7-14/2011) is ever present within the Sarasota ETM team. The volunteer efforts of therapist Zolla provided us a better understanding of America’s #1 birth defect.

You may be asking yourself, “What is a congenital heart defect?” A congenital heart defect (CHD) is a defect in the heart and/or large vessels present at birth.

Nearly 1 in 100 babies is born with a CHD, annually that’s nearly 40,000 babies born with a CHD in the U.S. Worldwide each year nearly 1 million babies are born with a CHD.

There are more than 40 known types of CHD. However, there is no known prevention or cure for any of them. What is known is that more than 50% of children born with CHD will require at least one invasive surgery in their lifetime.

These current statistics are with the consideration that in the last decade the death rate from CHD has declined by nearly 30% due to advances in research. This is where the Children’s Heart Foundation is making a difference.

Established by Betsy Peterson in 1996, The Children’s Heart Foundation (CHF) is the country’s leading organization solely committed to fund

congenital heart research. Since 1996, CHF has funded 41 research projects with more than $3.9 million. CHF is a national 501(c)(3) tax exempt charitable organizations that does not receive any government funding. The goal of the foundation is to bring health, hope and happiness to children and families impacted by congenital heart defects, the number one birth defect in the United States. This objective is accomplished by funding the most promising research to advance the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of congenital heart defects, the world’s most prevalent and deadly birth defect.

For more information, please visit:

Zolla is a nationally certified massage therapist with a wide gamut of treatment modalities; Pre & Post/Natal, Hot Stone, Carpal Tunnel Assessment & Treatment, and Sports Massage. She also Intern-Studied Structural Integration Therapy and became an Infant Massage Instructor for Parents & Caregivers. In the summer of 2010 she volunteered to support an athlete ( on a National Bike Across America (Bike4CHF) to benefit The Children’s Heart Foundation. The tour was from California to NYC; 43 days, 15 states, 39 cities and over 3,700 miles at a pace of 100 miles per day for the cyclist. The therapy that Zolla provided helped the athlete complete the tour, injury free and successfully land a National TV spot on the TODAY show! Additionally, she now holds the Treasurer position on the Florida Board of Directors with The Children’s Heart Foundation. She continues to volunteer helping promote events and fundraising. Also, Zolla enjoys being active and as a runner has completed 2 half-marathons, and several 5k & 10k distance competitions. She is an amateur singer/song writer, enjoys learning the art of strumming a guitar and is an active Toastmaster member.

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