Ectopia cordis is a rare genetic defect. During a baby’s development in utero, their chest wall doesn’t form correctly. It also doesn’t fuse together as it normally would. This prevents the heart from developing where it should, leaving it defenseless and exposed outside of the protection of the chest wall.
The defect affects about one in 126,000 births.
In partial ectopia cordis, the heart is located outside the chest wall, but just under the skin. The heart can be seen beating through the skin.