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Heart Health in Babies: 7 Early Signs of Congenital Heart Disease in Babies Parents Must Know | health news

Children’s heart health is crucial to their overall well-being. Regular physical activity and a balanced diet play an important role in maintaining a healthy heart. Encouraging kids to be active, limit screen time and eat nutritious foods is important to prevent heart problems later in life. Regular check-ups are also essential.

According to Dr. Deepak Thakur, Consultant Pediatric Cardiology, Pars Health Gurugram, “Congenital heart disease (CHD) refers to a structural or functional abnormality of the heart that is present at birth. It is a common condition that affects about 8 to 10 in 1000 live births worldwide. Depending on the type and extent of the problem, newborns with congenital heart disease (CHD) may show a variety of symptoms.”

7 signs new parents can watch out for in their newborn baby

Following are the important signs that parents should look out for in their children as shared by Dr. Deepak:

, Cyanosis: A bluish tinge to the skin, lips, or nail beds, cyanosis is one of the most significant indicators of congenital heart disease. It occurs when the amount of oxygen in the blood is low, indicating that the heart is not efficiently pumping oxygen-rich blood around the body. When a person cries or eats, cyanosis may become more pronounced.

, Shortness of breath or rapid breathing: Babies with congenital heart disease may have rapid breathing, especially when eating or engaging in activity. Shortness of breath or persistent shortness of breath may indicate insufficient oxygen supply to the body.

, Fatigue and weakness: Children with congenital heart disease may tire easily and show signs of fatigue or weakness after even minimal physical activity.

, Excessive sweating: Congenital heart disease may be indicated by excessive sweating, especially after feeding or physical activity. The body may sweat more because of the reduced ability of the heart to pump blood.

, Poor growth and feeding: Infants with congenital cardiac disease may have difficulty feeding, resulting in inadequate growth and weight gain. This is explained by the fact that their compromised heart function makes it difficult for them to breathe and eat.

• Children with congenital heart disease are more likely to develop respiratory infections or persistent cough. A history of respiratory infections, shortness of breath, or chronic cough may be signs of underlying heart disease.

, Edema: Fluid retention can cause swelling in the face, legs, abdomen, or other areas of the body. Any unexplained swelling should be closely monitored by parents, as it may indicate heart failure or other cardiac problems.

Congenital Heart Disease: Diagnosis and Early Detection

A doctor may find a heart murmur during a medical exam—an irregular sound caused by turbulent blood flow through the heart. This may suggest that a congenital heart problem exists and further diagnostic testing is warranted.

To confirm the diagnosis of CHD, various tests may be suggested, including simple non-invasive and painless tests such as echocardiography, chest X-ray and electrocardiography (ECG). These evaluations are important to assess the structure and function of the heart, to identify any abnormalities. In certain cases, complementary tests such as CT scan, MRI scan, and cardiac catheterization may be needed to enhance the diagnosis and develop a treatment strategy.

A special ultrasound test called a fetal echocardiogram may be done between 16 and 24 weeks of pregnancy to assess the physical structure and function of the developing baby’s heart. This early detection allows doctors to plan for appropriate management and treatment after birth, which can significantly improve outcomes for affected babies.

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