Congenital Heart Defects in Children and Newborns

Congenital Heart Defects in Children and Newborns

When a parent receives the news their child has a heart defect, the prognosis can sometimes be dim, however early detection and treatment can improve a child’s odds for a long, healthy life.

There are many different types of heart defects. Most of them are diagnosed prior to the child being born, while others show symptoms during infancy or childhood.

What are some of the causes? What are the symptoms? Is there anything you can do to prevent it from happening?

At Sonas Home Health Care, we aim to answer as many of your questions as possible.

Causes of Congenital Heart Disease

A congenital issue is one that is present when the child is born. This means that the defect was caused by a malformation during gestation.

There is no specific cause for congenital heart defects. However, certain conditions, such as environmental factors or chromosomal abnormalities (such as Down Syndrome) may have an effect on the heart formation of a fetus.

Signs & Symptoms of Congenital Heart Disease

There are many different types of heart defects, and each of them has their own list of symptoms. Among the most common are the following:

  • A baby has a blue hue, blue tongue or lips
  • Heart murmur (an unusual sound between heartbeats)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty feeding
  • Swelling of the legs or abdomen

If the child is a little bit older, the following may also be telltale signs:

  • Easily becomes short of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Chest pains
  • Palpitations (heart racing)

You can find out more about symptoms by clicking on the linked websites below.

Types of Heart Defects

There are many types of congenital heart defects. Some of the most common include:

Atrial Septal Defect (ASD): ASD occurs when there’s a hole in the wall that divides the two upper chambers of the heart.

Ventricular septal defect (VSD): This happens when there’s a hole in the wall that divides the two lower chambers of the heart.

Bicuspid Aortic Valve: This occurs when the main artery that pumps blood from the heart to the rest of the body (the aorta) has two valves instead of the three valves it’s supposed to have.

Aortic Stenosis: This happens when the opening of the aorta is narrower than it should be. This results in restricted blood flow, and your child’s heart has to work harder to pump blood into the body.

Coarctation of the Aorta (COA): With this condition, the entire aorta is more narrow than it should be. It could be mild or severe. Depending on how narrow the artery is, the condition may not even be noticeable until adulthood.

Long QT Syndrome: This condition causes arrhythmia (irregular heartbeats) that can result in fainting during exercise.

Kawasaki Disease: Inflammation of the coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart.

Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome (WPW): This occurs when a child’s heart has an additional electrical pathway between the upper and lower chambers. As a result, a child will experience palpitations.

Risk Factors for Congenital Heart Disease

  • Medications the mother takes during pregnancy
  • If the mother has seizures
  • Smoking during pregnancy
  • Consuming alcohol during pregnancy
  • Family history
  • Chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus
  • Diabetes (this risk can be reduced if the mother controls her diabetes prior to and during pregnancy).

This list of risk factors, however, is not exhaustive, nor is any single risk factor an absolute culprit for congenital heart defects. The reality is that in the majority of cases, the cause of congenital issues is idiopathic or unknown.

Complications of Congenital Heart Disease

Heart failure: This is a medical term to describe a heart that’s not working as well as it should. Often, surgery will be necessary to treat it.

Endocarditis: This is an infection of the lining of the heart’s chambers. It will cause chest pains when breathing, blood in urine, and flu-like symptoms.

Developmental problems: These may be caused by poor blood circulation, which affects motor skills, speech, and a child’s ability to ability to pay attention.

Respiratory infections: This type of complication is more common in ASD and VSD because the holes between heart valves cause extra blood to be pumped into pulmonary arteries to the lungs. This causes excess fluid buildup in the lungs, which in turn makes it harder for a child to breathe.

Contact Us for Assistance

If your child or anyone you love has a heart defect, we can help. Our experienced home health care providers will know how to deal with the scarier issues stemming from heart defects.

Call (888) 592-5855 or click here to schedule your free in-home assessment today.

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