“Timely screening of pediatric heart defects will make it easy to treat the condition,” says Dr. Kulbhushan Singh Dagar

Even if the mother had congenital heart defect or has a child with the same condition, the vast majority of subsequent pregnancies will be normal, says Dr. Kulbushan Singh Dagar.

Dr. Kulbushan Singh Dagar

Congenital heart defect are defects of the heart that occur due to improper development of the heart during the pregnancy. It is important to know that most cases of congenital heart defect have no known cause and can occur in any pregnancy. Another condition is blueness (cyanosis) of any sort which is a marker of underlying cardiac defect in the overwhelming majority of children and should not be ignored.

Dr. Kulbhushan Singh Dagar, Sr. Director – Chief Surgeon & Head – Neonatal & Congenital Heart Surgery, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Saket, says: “Some types of congenital heart defects are known to occur more often when mother comes in contact with certain substances like antiepileptic medication, during the first few weeks of pregnancy while the babies heart is developing. Uncontrolled diabetes and viral infection in the first few months of pregnancy along with life style practices such as smoking also predisposed to higher incidents of congenital heart disease during pregnancy. Even if the mother had congenital heart defect or has a child with congenital heart defect the vast majority of subsequent pregnancies will be normal.”

Symptoms of shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing (asthmatic attack) can be caused both by underlying cardiac defects or stand alone pulmonary pathology example exposure to allergens. Heart Failure (inability of the heart to effectively pump blood) can cause fluid to build up in your lungs (pulmonary edema) in and around your airways. The latter causes sign and symptoms such as shortness of breath coughing and wheezing that may mimic asthma. Not all the patients with wheezing will have an underlying cardiac disorder. However before labeling it as a allergic phenomena a thorough cardiac examination, usually including an echo would be in order.

“Sometimes parents are worried about their kids enlarged heart. An enlarged heart (cardiomegaly) isn’t a disease, but rather a sign of an underlying condition. The causes of enlarged heart may range from normal variant up to life threatening problems. Common causes is enlarged heart in children can be holes in the heart, ASD, valvular heart disease, a disease which could be congenital or acquired, disease of heart muscle (cardiomyopathy) and fluid around the heart. Low red blood cell count, thyroid disorder, pulmonary hypertension and rare diseases like amyloidosis can also lead to an enlarged heart. The child needs to be evaluated by a Pediatric Cardiologist to identify the underlying cause of enlargement and further management,” Dr. Dagar pointed out.

Only a very small majority of chest pain during the growing up period are related to underlying cardiac issues. However as the consequences of these anomalies can be grave and life threatening chest pain in children needs to be evaluated by a Pediatric Cardiologist.

“All children with blueness irrespective of the degree should have an evaluation by Pediatric Cardiologist. During this evaluation the child will typically have an x-ray of the chest taken along with saturation and ECHO examination. Instances of blueness during the first few weeks of life generally signify severe underlying cardiac defects and may need urgent intervention early in life. Sometimes within the first week of life,” Dr. Dagar added.