Congenital heart defect in children occurs when a child was is born with a problem in the structure of the heart.
Cases of serious congenital heart defects usually cause clear signs and symptoms after the child’s birth or during the first few months of life. Some symptoms include:
On the other hand, less serious congenital heart defects cases may not be diagnosed until later in childhood, when symptoms begin to develop in older children. These symptoms include:
The heart begins to develop and starts beating during the first six weeks of pregnancy. During this time period, the heart’s major blood vessels also begin to take shape. In addition, it is at this point in the baby's development that heart defects may begin to develop.
Most congenital heart defects result from complications early in the heart development during childhood. While the cause for most cases is unknown, certain genetic and environmental factors may play a role. These risk factors include:
The doctor may first suspect a problem when hearing a heart murmur during a routine exam with a stethoscope. Heart murmurs are sounds which occur when blood flows abnormally in or near the heart. While heart murmurs may be a sign of heart abnormality due to a heart defect, most heart murmurs are not harmful and does not mean that heart defect is present.
For certain congenital heart defects in children, there may have no significant effect on the child's health, and the defect can be left untreated. Some defects, such as small holes, can even correct themselves as the child ages.
As treatment for children with congenital heart defects may a life-long process, regular monitoring is essential after surgeries or medication, and children who have heart defects should be mindful of their conditions. Most patients with congenital heart defects will have to be seen regularly by a cardiologist throughout their lives.
The information provided on this page does not replace information from your healthcare professional. Please consult your healthcare professional for more information.
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