Multiple genetic or even exposures to harmful environmental factors interact and alter the development of the heart. Uncontrolled diabetes, or alcohol and drug abuse, harmful medicines like anti-coagulants or anti-epileptics, and hereditary defects increase the risk of heart malformations.
There are a number of heart disorders with varying degree of complexities. The most common ones are ones that affect the heart chambers like atrial septal defects and ventricular septal defects, or the ones that affect the valves like pulmonary valve stenosis and mitral stenosis.
Congenital heart diseases can be picked during the 20-week scan ultrasound scan, but sometimes it cannot be detected until the baby is born.
Common symptoms for heart disease include:
- extreme tiredness
- poor feeding and weight gain
- excessive sweating, sudden weight gain or puffiness
- rapid heartbeat
- breathing problems
- chest pain
- the appearance of a blue tinge (cyanosis) on the skin, lips, and nail beds
Some other symptoms include murmuring of the heart (an abnormal pitch or intensity of blood flow), erratic eating patterns characterised by a huge appetite (because babies may need a huge number of calories to keep the defective heart pumping to ensure enough blood flow), and chronic choking and coughing spells (blood vessels coming from the heart can get tangled around the breathing tube or feeding tube causing breathing or feeding troubles)
Once brought to the notice of doctors, some heart abnormalities like the ventricular septal defect, an atrio-ventricular septal defect can be corrected with a single operation in early infancy.
Some complex issues like hypoplastic left heart syndrome and tricuspid atresia may, however, require a series of two or three operations spanning years altogether. Various procedures like catheterization, balloon angioplasty, valvuloplasty, transcatheter device occlusion are used to treat the different ailments.
Preventing infection is yet another important consideration. Kids with congenital heart disease run the risk of contracting bacterial endocarditis, an infection of the tissue that lines the heart and blood vessels.
To conclude, heart disorders, if and when detected, should be monitored and treated at the earliest, so that there are minimal complications arising from them in the future that can pose fatal or even any kind of mild harm to the baby.