When one says a child has a congenital heart defect, it means that a child was born with a problem in the structure of his or her heart.
Some congenital heart defects in children are simple and don't need treatment. Other congenital heart defects in children are more complex and may require several surgeries performed over a period of several years.
Learning about your child's congenital heart defect can help you understand the condition and know what you can expect in the coming months and years.
Common congenital heart defects are Ventricular Septal Defects(VSD),Atrial Septal Defects(ASD),Patent Ductus Arteriosus(PDA), Tetralogy Of Fallot(TOF)etc.
Serious congenital heart defects- usually become evident soon after birth or during the first few months of life. Signs and symptoms could include:
• Pale gray or blue skin color (cyanosis)
• Rapid breathing
• Swelling in the legs, abdomen or areas around the eyes
• Shortness of breath during feedings, leading to poor weight gain
Less serious congenital heart defects- may not be diagnosed until later in childhood, because your child may not have any noticeable signs of a problem. If signs and symptoms are evident in older children, they may include:
• Easily becoming short of breath during exercise or activity
• Easily tiring during exercise or activity
• Fainting during exercise or activity
• Swelling in the hands, ankles or feet
When to see a doctor?
Serious congenital heart defects are often diagnosed before or soon after your child is born. It may come to one’s notice when symptoms develop or when a murmur or cyanosis (bluish tinge) is detected during a regular health checkup. If you notice that your baby has any of the signs or symptoms above, call your child's doctor.
If your child has any of the signs or symptoms of less serious heart defects as he or she grows, call your child's doctor. Your child's doctor can let you know if your child's symptoms are due to a heart defect or another medical condition.
Dr. Jithu Sam Rajan
MBBS, MD, DM. Consultant – Cardiology