Congenital heart defects are abnormalities in the heart structure that exist at the time of birth.
Approximately eight out of 1,000 babies are born with congenital heart
defects, which translates into approximately 35,000 babies per year in
the U.S. In some newborns, these conditions are very minor and don’t
cause any symptoms. In others, congenital heart defects are serious and
could require NICU care. Although not all congenital heart defects will
cause symptoms, newborns with heart conditions may display these signs.
Cyanosis refers to a bluish hue that appears on the skin, lips, and fingernails
in response to oxygen deprivation. A congenital heart defect may impact
the heart’s ability to circulate oxygen-rich blood throughout the
body, which causes the cyanosis to occur. Any time your baby displays
this symptom, seek emergency care, even if he or she hasn’t been
diagnosed with a heart defect, as he or she could be suffering from a
dangerous lack of oxygen.
Fatigue is easier to spot in older children, who suddenly become too tired
to keep up with their friends or do their usual activities, than it is
in newborns, but there are ways to detect excessive tiredness in babies.
Pay attention to how your child behaves during feedings. Getting tired
during feedings is an indicator of fatigue in a newborn. Some newborns
may not gain weight because they are too fatigued to feed properly.
Rapid breathing, which can be caused by congenital heart defects, is always
a cause for concern in children. Your doctor may notice that your newborn
is breathing rapidly in the hospital and recommend testing for heart defects.
If your child begins breathing rapidly at home, seek emergency care.
Sunrise Children’s Hospital is equipped to provide cutting-edge care
to young patients, from the smallest newborns in our
NICU in Las Vegas to our older children who come to use for emergency care. You can learn
more about our hospital by calling (702) 233-5437.