20 Mar Recognizing Congenital Heart Defects in Infants
I know, Mama, there is so much to think about concerning your baby’s health. Aside from his basic needs, you might be wondering how to know if something is seriously wrong and when to seek help. Here are some strategies for coping with the unexpected. Some birth defects are not visible on the outside of the body and this is the case with congenital heart defects (CHD). They are the most common type of birth defect, affecting the structure of the heart in minor to major ways.
While most congenital heart defects are detected during pregnancy, some are discovered after birth, during routine screening of your newborn before you leave the hospital.
But, sometimes the signs of CHD don’t show up until weeks after birth. The function of the heart is to circulate blood throughout the body, transporting oxygen to all its components. When the heart is not doing this effectively, you’ll see signs of this in your newborn. These signs include:
- blue-tinted nail or lips
- purple feet
- labored breathing
- tiredness when feeding
- being constantly sleepy or lethargic
If your baby has blue/purple hands or feet, or trouble breathing, call emergency services immediately.
While some CHD occurs in connection with other genetic conditions like Down Syndrome, most occur sporadically. Health researchers think there is a link between CHD and mothers who smoke or have chronic and inflammatory health conditions, like diabetes and obesity. So, if you’re thinking of becoming pregnant, now is the time to make lifestyle changes to give your baby the very best advantage for a healthy life. You can do it!
- Centers for Disease Control (CDC). November 17, 2020. Congenital heart defects. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/heartdefects/facts.html
- National Library of Medicine (NIH). August 1, 2020. Critical congenital heart disease. https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/condition/critical-congenital-heart-disease/
- Photo by Anna Shvets: A Person in Blue Denim Jeans Holding Baby’s Foot. https://www.pexels.com/photo/a-person-in-blue-denim-jeans-holding-baby-s-foot-11369476/