Here's All You Should Know About Congenital Heart Diseases In Babies

Here's All You Should Know About Congenital Heart Diseases In Babies

Congenital heart disease is a defect in the structure of the heart that occurs in babies which is present from birth. Here's all you need to know about CHD

If your child has congenital heart disease it means that he or she was born with a problem in the way the heart is structured.

Congenital heart disease in babies

According to Punch, Foyinsorimi was just three months old when her mother Abiodun Shodimu noticed she had difficulty in breathing and passing out waste. She took her baby to the hospital where she was told that her baby had three holes in her heart. Elsewhere, the case wasn't brighter for another mother whose baby is named Joy Richard. Her four-year-old had the same symptoms, and after a test, there was a discovery that she had two holes in her heart. In Kwara state, the parents of nine-year-old Asmau Abdulsalam have been fighting to keep their daughter alive. All of these cases speak of the prevalence of congenital heart disease in Nigeria. Congenital heart disease is one of the most common heart problems that affects babies from birth.

CHD in babies

Symptoms of congenital heart disease

Congenital heart disease symptoms vary, depending on whether it's serious or not. You can spot the signs and symptoms of serious congenital heart disease immediately after birth or after a few months. Below are the symptoms of serious CHD.

  • Pale grey or blue skin colour
  • Quick breathing
  • Swollen legs, abdomen or areas around the eyes
  • Poor weight gain due to shortness of breath during feeding.

For the less serious version of CHD, the symptoms may not show up until later in childhood, if they show up at all. The symptoms include:

  • Swelling in the hands, ankles or feet
  • Shortness of breath during exercise or heavy activity.
  • Tiring easily during exercise
  • Fainting during exercise or activity

Causes of CHD

congenital heart disease examples

The heart has four sides, two on the left and two on the right. Just like a division of labour, the heart divides the job between its left and right side. The right side of the heart is responsible for moving blood to the lungs through vessels. Once in the lungs, blood carries oxygen from there to the left side of the heart and thereafter, the left side pumps out the blood to the rest of the body.

The heart of a foetus begins to shape and form during the first six weeks of pregnancy. It is during this time that the vessels that carry blood develop, at which point the baby's heart problem might also begin to develop. The reason for this heart problem isn't clear yet, but experts have suggested causes like genetics and environmental conditions.

Types of heart problems

  • Interrupted blood flow: This happens when the vessels that carry blood become narrow, making the heart work twice as hard to pump blood. Eventually, what this does to the heart is that it enlarges and then thickens the heart muscles.
  • Abnormal blood vessels: This happens when the vessels that carry blood to and from the heart either develop in an incorrect way or are in an incorrect position.
  • Holes in the heart: As the name suggests, this happens when there's a hole in the between the heart chamber or between vessels. This causes a mix up between blood that is rich in oxygen and one that is not.
  • Underdeveloped heart: In some cases, the heart or a part of it fails to develop properly. And without full development, the heart can't pump blood to the lungs or the rest of the body.

Risk factors

Here's All You Should Know About Congenital Heart Diseases In Babies

  • German measles: Having German measles during pregnancy can bring problems in your baby's heart development. Try to have your doctor check you for immunity against this disease.
  • Diabetes: Women with diabetes stand a higher risk of having babies with Congenital heart disease, so try to control it before pregnancy.
  • Medications: During pregnancy, taking some medications might cause your baby a heart problem. Don't take medication without your doctor's approval.
  • Smoking: If you smoke during pregnancy, you may cause the baby's heart problems.
  • Hereditary: If someone in your family has had congenital heart disease before, then it may likely happen again.
  • Alcohol: Taking alcohol during pregnancy exposes your child to congenital heart disease.

Prevention

  • Take German measles vaccine: Even before you get pregnant, you should have your doctor check your immunity against this disease. Get vaccinated if your immunity is low.
  • Control medication: If you have diabetes, try to have it under control before getting pregnant. Also, if you have any problems that require constant medication you should discuss it with your doctor.
  • Avoid harmful substances: During pregnancy avoid going close to substances like paint and some cleaning products with a strong smell. Also, don't smoke or drink alcohol.

If you notice any of the above signs and symptoms, whether serious or otherwise, you should see your doctor immediately.

Read also: What Is Celiac Disease And How Is It Treated?

Punch, Healthline

Written by

Lydia Ume