What parents of children with congenital heart disease should know: doctors' response
The birth and emergence of a new life is the most beautiful thing in the world. Parents have only the best hopes for their child. They dream of a carefree childhood, versatile development and rich time spent together. However, most of all, mums and dads want their child to grow up healthy. Unfortunately, not all their dreams can always come true, and childhood diseases are often quite serious.
Congenital heart disease is a common diagnosis that can sound like a death sentence for parents. However, it is in this situation that adults should remain calm, because the life and health of the baby depends on them. The FamilyDoctor.org publication explains whether parents can contribute to the disease and what to look for after birth.
A diagnosis of congenital heart disease means that a child has already been born with heart disorders. Even in the womb, the organ developed poorly or with certain defects. Some disorders can be minor, and children grow up strong and healthy, but others can be fatal.
Common defects include: a defect in the heart chamber, abnormalities of the heart muscle, a defect in the heart valve, and an open arterial duct.
Symptoms of congenital heart disease
Depending on the specific disorder, symptoms may vary. Some of them are noticeable immediately after birth, others - as the child grows up, and some - do not manifest themselves at all.
A serious heart defect in babies may be indicated by:
Cyanotic colour of the skin, lips and nails;
Lethargy and poor appetite;
As you grow older, these symptoms may be accompanied by fatigue during exercise and shortness of breath.
Causes of congenital heart disease
Sometimes doctors cannot establish the exact cause of a child's serious defects. However, there are some factors that increase the risk of its development. The most common ones include:
The presence of certain genetic diseases, such as Down syndrome;
Infectious processes during pregnancy, such as rubella infection;
Uncontrolled blood sugar levels in the mother's blood during pregnancy;
Abuse of drugs, alcohol or chemicals during pregnancy.
In most cases, future parents cannot influence the development of a heart defect in an unborn baby, but following certain rules can reduce this risk. Thus, high-quality preparation for pregnancy, a balanced diet, control of chronic diseases and expert advice can support the mother's body and increase the chances of having a healthy baby.
How to diagnose congenital heart disease?
Some serious problems with the baby's heart can be diagnosed during pregnancy with an ultrasound scan, while others become noticeable immediately after birth. If the problem is not too serious, it may appear over time, sometimes even in adulthood.
If you notice any worrying symptoms in your child, do not hesitate to visit a doctor. A specialist will conduct an examination and determine whether additional tests are needed to make a diagnosis. Thus, he or she may prescribe an electrocardiogram or heart catheterisation, a chest X-ray, an MRI of the cardiovascular system, and measure the level of oxygen in the blood.
Can a congenital defect be treated?
Depending on the severity of the problem, therapy will vary. In fact, some children do not need any treatment at all, as the defect does not threaten their full life. Other children may need drug therapy to strengthen the heart and prevent complications. In severe cases, surgery may be required immediately after birth or after some time. Fortunately, after the defect is surgically repaired, children quickly return to normal life.
At the same time, a family with a child with a heart defect should establish a healthy lifestyle. Keep in mind that your child may get tired more quickly or be prone to developing other pathologies, such as pulmonary hypertension, arrhythmia, or congestive heart failure. Parents should first of all accept this fact, learn as much as possible about it and enlist the support of specialists, because it is your awareness that will allow you to notice the warning signs in time and seek help.
The heart is a real engine of our body, and disorders in its functioning affect all systems. Unfortunately, children are also not 100 per cent protected from heart disease. Congenital heart disease is a serious illness, but not a death sentence. The right lifestyle before and during pregnancy, a thorough examination of the baby in the womb and after birth, and expert supervision can help prevent serious complications and give the baby a full and healthy life.
Earlier, OBOZREVATEL talked about the dangers of smoking. Cardiologists noted that smoking can cause cardiovascular diseases and stressed that passive smoking is no less harmful.