Congenital heart defects or CDCs are medical issues related to the heart, which are present at birth. These problems affect the structure of the baby’s heart and its overall functioning. Further, congenital heart issues also impact the way the blood flows through the heart and ultimately reaches the body. Congenital heart problems can be less complicated like a mild hole or even serious ones like missing or poorly developed parts of the heart. Moreover, congenital heart issues are one of the most common types of birth issues found in kinds.
Reasons for Congenital Heart Defects
The main reason for congenital heart ailments is not known. However, in some cases, children have these problems because of changes in their genes or chromosomes. But in some cases, defects are because of a combination of genes, along with other factors like the environment, the mother’s diet during pregnancy, general health condition of the mother, medications during pregnancy, and smoking during pregnancy. Moreover, in cases, if the mother is obese or obesity or diabetes, a child can have heart issues or defects.
Types of Congenital Heart Defects
Atrial Septal Defect or ASD: Atrial Septal Defect is in the part of the septum, which divides the right and left chambers of the heart. This causes the oxygen-rich blood from the left chamber of the heart, known as an atrium, to go into the right chamber. Instead, the blood from the left chamber should ideally go into the left ventricle as per the normal process. When the direction of blood changes, the oxygen-rich blood flows back into the lungs, instead of going into the body. Typically, ASD can be small or large, depending on the condition of the heart. In most cases, a small ASD is not harmful and does not need any special medical treatment since the hole automatically closes on its own along with the natural growth of the child. In case of a large ASD, there is more leakage of blood, which could be potentially very harmful to the baby. However, if the hole does not fill up on its own, the child will need special care and treatment. That said, the signs of a heart hole do no occur in a child up until the age of 30 years or even later. In all, if a large heart hole is not repaired in time, the child might suffer a heart failure, or irregular heartbeats, stroke, pulmonary hypertension, and several other heart-related complications.
Ventricular Septal Defect or VSD: A VSD is a kind of defect where the child’s heart has a hole in the opening of the septum, which separates the lower chambers of the heart, known as the ventricles. This defect causes the oxygen-rich blood from the heart’s left ventricle to flow into the right ventricle. The blood eventually mixes up with the oxygen-poor blood, rather than going out of the body through the aorta. In some cases, a child can have more than one VSD. But in most cases, the VSD closes on its own as the child grows in age. Such ailments do not cause any issue. Alternatively, large size VSDs can cause some problems and will need surgery, if they do not eventually close on their own. A large hole can cause heart failure, growth issues, irregular heartbeats, and pulmonary hypertension.
Coarctation of the Aorta: Coarctation is an intense congenital defect, which implies a narrowing of the aorta. Typically, the aorta is a large blood vessel, which stretches from the heart to provide oxygen-rich blood to the entire body. If a child experiences a coarctation of the aorta, the heart is forced to function even harder and pump blood profusely to ensure a smooth flow through the narrowed aorta. This, in turn, impacts the efficiency of the heart and thereby, the general health of the child. This condition is usually present at birth and could be intense or mild, varying from case-to-case. In some instances, the condition can go unnoticed until adulthood. However, this depends on how much the aorta is affected. Coarctation of the aorta can be treated easily and often successfully, but the medical attention is life-long and requires consisted of follow-ups and precautions.
Double-outlet Right Ventricle (DORV): DORV is a serious congenital heart issue, which develops in a child. In this problem, the aorta of the heart, which is generally linked to the left ventricle (the chamber that pumps oxygen-rich blood to the body), is instead by default associated to the right ventricle (the chamber that provides oxygen-poor blood to the lungs). This issue causes both the arteries to automatically flow out of the right ventricle. This leads the oxygen-poor blood to flow to the entire
D-Transposition of the Great Arteries: This is aserious congenital heart disorder in which the aorta and the pulmonary artery of the heart of the child shift from their normal position. The change in position causes the aorta to flow through the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery to the branch of the left ventricle. This causes the aorta to come off the right ventricle and pulmonary artery to come from the left ventricle. This means that oxygen-rich blood from the lungs flows back to the lungs itself. Instead, the poor-oxygen blood from the body flows back to the system, which should ideally be going to the lungs for the oxygen-enrichment process.
Ebstein Anomaly: This is a rare congenital issue where the child’s heart valve, located between the right atrium and the right ventricle of the heart, sits in the wrong position. The leaflets of the valve are not of the right shape. This causes the value to malfunction and ultimately lead to leakage of the blood back to the valve and then finally to the right atrium.
Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome: This is one of the most severe types of the heart defect. This syndrome occurs when the child’s left side of the heart does not develop properly during the pregnancy term. This makes the left-side of the heart unable of pump oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body efficiently. In this syndrome, surgery or other medical treatment is required. However, as soon as the baby is born and displays any symptoms of the disorder, urgent medical attention is required:
Symptoms of Congenital Heart Defects
Symptoms of heart defects in children vary by the type of ailment. In some cases, there may be no signs at all. However, some common signs include:
- Blue-tinted nails
- Blue lips
- Tiredness when feeding
Most of the congenital heart issues are detected during pregnancy. However, some other health concerns can also be diagnosed during post-birth and later like.