Heart problems are not only limited to senior citizens or adults as even children and newborns can have issues. Critical congenital heart disease is addressed as a group of serious heart conditions present at birth. Children with this disease are born with hearts that fail to form correctly as the heart may have holes, one of the valves that separate different parts of the heart may be missing (atresia). There may be other challenges such as the heart being too narrow or small. When the heart of the child is not able to pump well, it leads to insufficiency of oxygen and other substances, which can cause critical congenital heart disease.
In this article, Dr. Jaideep Rajebahadur, Cardiologist SRV Hospital, Goregaon, explains the importance of timely screening for critical congenital heart disease in newborns. Parents should read on to know more about this, and go for screening as per the doctor’s advice.
Symptoms of Congenital Heart Disease In Babies
Babies diagnosed with critical congenital heart disease may look healthy at birth but develop serious symptoms after a few days. The symptoms of are:
- loss of healthy skin color
- blue coloration of the skin, lips, and fingernails (cyanosis)
- rapid or troubled breathing (tachypnea)
- swelling or puffiness in the face, hands, feet, legs
- chest pain
- low blood pressure
- shortness of breath or getting tired easily
- weight loss
The mechanism of critical congenital heart disease is related to inadequate or faulty development of the heart in utero. It can develop due to changes in genes that give instructions to the body for how the heart is formed. Critical congenital heart disease can also happen due to chemicals or drugs, infections, or other conditions in the baby or mom.
Why screening is important for babies with critical congenital heart disease
If the condition is not diagnosed timely then there can be serious problems. The baby may have several issues such as cardiac collapse (when a baby’s heart stops working properly and can’t get oxygen to the body) or death within the first few days or weeks they are at home. It can also cause brain damage and heart failure.
If a critical congenital heart disease is diagnosed before a baby leaves the hospital, doctors can help with timely treatment that may prevent morbidity and mortality in the baby. Babies that are diagnosed with critical congenital heart disease may be required to spend more time in the hospital. Screening for critical congenital heart defects can play a pivotal role in detection of it before babies are discharged to go home post birth.
Parents must ensure to get their newborn screened for all congenital diseases. Timely screening will allow babies to get treated before disaster can strike. Also, providing the right treatment from the very beginning can prevent disability and mortality. Treatment involving surgery or other care depends on the baby’s heart problem and symptoms.
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