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About 1 in 100 babies is born with a structural heart problem, which is called congenital heart disease. These affected babies can present symptoms from the first days of life, although sometimes heart disease does not show its face until much later. For this reason, it is common to find asymptomatic children, who apart from the heart murmur, are well. In contrast, others may have symptoms that can be mistaken for other diseases or disorders.
In the newborn, the symptoms that can lead to suspect that the baby has a significant heart disease are:
- Difficulty feeding.
- Fast breathing.
- bluish or purple lips (cyanosis).
- Growth retardation.
In a child or adolescent, the most significant symptoms are:
- Difficulty exercising or practicing physical activities.
- chest pain
Science has not yet been able to determine what causes congenital heart disease. Although some parents may have more than one child with heart disease, in most cases, these are not considered hereditary and, in most cases, children with congenital heart disease have no known risk factors. However, congenital heart diseases are associated with chromosomal abnormalities, such as trisomy 21 (Down syndrome) and are linked to specific genetic abnormalities. Babies with other birth problems can also have congenital heart disease.
The mother's health during pregnancy also plays an important role. The women who are most likely to give birth to a child with heart disease are those who have contracted rubella during pregnancy, have untreated or uncontrolled diabetes, or phenylketonuria (a genetic metabolic disorder). In addition, exposure to certain chemicals during pregnancy, including alcohol or medications taken before birth, are also associated with congenital heart disease.
There are several types of heart problems that can lead to murmurs. These conditions include heart septum abnormalities, valve abnormalities, abnormal flow between the heart chambers and outlets (outflow tract obstruction), and heart muscle problems.
1. Abnormalities in the heart septum. They affect the walls between the upper and lower chambers of the heart when there is a hole in the septum. Through this hole, blood can flow into the other heart chambers and this extra blood flow can cause a murmur. It can also cause the heart to have to work more than necessary and, consequently, to enlarge.
2. Valve abnormalities. They arise when the valves are deformed or have any abnormality, that is, they are small, too thick or present some other type of abnormality.
3. Heart muscle problems. When this muscle is thicker or weaker than normal, it can decrease the heart's ability to pump blood to the body normally. In case there is a problem, a pediatric cardiologist will advise the best solution.
You can read more articles similar to What is a congenital heart disease in babies, in the category of Childhood Diseases on site.