Are you expecting a baby soon? Or have you just given birth to your little one? Whichever the case be, there is something important that you must know – congenital heart disease.
It is one of the most common types of birth defects. CHD in babies can be dangerous. Read on to know more.
What Is CHD In Babies?
Simply put, congenital heart disease, also known as congenital heart defect, is a condition wherein a baby is born with an abnormally structured heart, and may have large sized blood vessels as well. This may include conditions wherein certain parts of the heart are missing, or have developed in the wrong way, or may have certain portions of the heart that have narrow or leaky chambers (1).
[ Read: Birth Defects In Babies ]
Causes Of CHD In Babies:
Currently, no obvious cause of congenital heart disease has been identified. However, there are some factors that are known to increase the risk of this condition significantly. Some of those include:
1. Down’s Syndrome:
This genetic disorder affects the normal physical development of the baby, and often causes learning difficulties as well.
[ Read: Bronchiolitis In Babies ]
Certain infections in the mother during pregnancy, such as rubella, may also increase the risk of congenital heart disease in the baby.
[ Read: Signs Of Autism In Infants ]
3. Other Complications:
Poor control of the mother over existing health conditions, such as type 1 or type 2 diabetes, could also significantly raise the risk of congenital heart disease in the baby (2).
4. Chromosomal Abnormality:
Many scientists also blame congenital heart disease to chromosomal defects and single gene defects.
5. Environmental Factors:
Certain environmental factors, particularly maternal conditions such as depression may also have an impact on the risk of congenital heart disease in babies (3).
Common Heart Defects:
Some common heart defects that can be categorized under congenital heart disease include:
1. Aortic Stenois:
In this condition, the aortic valve gets stiffened, and has a narrow opening, which causes a strain on the heart.
2. Atrial Septal Defect:
This condition is basically a hole in the wall that separates the left and the right atrium which allows extra flow of blood.
3. Atrioventricular Canal Defect:
This condition is characterized by a poorly formed central area of the heart.
4. Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome:
In this condition, the left structures of the heart tend to be underdeveloped, and are unable to pump blood adequately to the entire body.
5. Pulmonary Stenosis:
In this condition, the pulmonic valve tends to get stiff, which narrows the opening causing an increased strain on the right side of the heart.
6. Tetralogy Of Fallot:
This condition is actually a combination of 4 heart defects – thickening of the right ventricle, pulmonary stenosis, a hole in the lower heart chambers, and an aorta that receives blood from both the left and the right ventricles (4).
Signs And Symptoms Of Congenital Heart Disease:
A lot of congenital heart defects are detected when an ultrasound is carried out during pregnancy (usually at the 20th week scan); however, in some cases they are not found even after the baby is born. And in rare cases, they are not detected even after the baby reaches the stage of adulthood.
In most babies and toddlers, congenital heart defects show the following signs and symptoms, which may vary depending upon the severity of the condition.
- Rapid heartbeat
- Breathing problem
- Chest pain
- Extreme tiredness
- Excessive sweating
- Bluish tinge to the skin
- Poor feeding (5)
Treatment And Management Options:
Many babies affected by congenital heart disease may require no specific treatment. However, in the case of acute symptoms, resuscitation may be needed. In case of severe disorders that affect the circulation of blood negatively, surgical correction may be needed.
Congenital heart disease in infants is a serious health condition, which is why, it is important to undergo preliminary tests and stick to a healthy diet during pregnancy to reduce the risk.
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