Saturday, May 7, 2011

Causes And Symptoms Of Congenital heart disease

In congenital heart disease, a person is born with some abnormal structure or function of the heart (a heart defect). The most common heart defect is a hole in the wall that separates the right and left sides of the heart. The larger and more complex the defect, the more serious the heart disease.

Who is at risk of congenital heart disease?

If your family has a history of congenital heart disease, then your risk may be higher. Children whose parents are blood relatives, such as cousins, are more prone to heart defects. The defect can also develop during the early months of pregnancy, if the mother:

• has an infection, such as German measles (rubella);
• drinks alcohol;
• takes certain medicines;
• has X-rays.

What are the signs of congenital heart disease?
If the defect is small, it may not cause any symptoms. If the defect is more serious, the doctor will probably detect symptoms right after birth or within a few weeks. These may include:
• blue skin (cyanosis);
• diffi culty breathing;
• poor weight gain;
• feeding problems.
If your baby has these symptoms or any features that you think are abnormal, tell your doctor as soon as you can. A baby with congenital heart disease may need surgery, sometimes right after birth.

How can you lower the risk of heart defects for your baby?

• Avoid cousin (blood relative) marriages.
• Be vaccinated against rubella (German measles).
• If you are pregnant, avoid alcohol, X-rays, and any medicine that your doctor has not prescribed or approved for you.

Can a baby with congenital heart disease live a normal life?

Yes. Babies born with a mild heart defect can grow up to live a fairly normal life. Some may not be able to exercise as much as others. They will also have a greater chance of getting infections of the inside walls of the heart, called infective endocarditis. These infections can occur as a result of surgery or dental procedures. They must check with their doctor before having any such procedures.

If a baby has severe and complex heart defects, his or her life will become much more limited. Some children will not grow as well as they should.

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