Higher Risk of Heart Diseases in Children Including the Fetus and Young Adult

Sonali Kapoor

, Health A2Z

There is no specific factor which causes heart diseases in children. Some lifestyle habits, unhealthy eating habits and history of hierarchical heart defects of the mother may be some common cause which develops a heart defect in a baby. If you need to know about these symptoms and complications associated with your heart, you are reading the right article on the internet.


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What are Heart Diseases in Children?


The heart diseases are referred to the heart conditions which include diseased vessels, structural problems, and blood clots. About one in every 100 children has a heart problem, which may also be called as a heart defect or congenital (present from birth) heart disease. Heart defects can usually be treated with medicine, surgery or other medical procedures.


Most tests for heart problems are simple, quick and not painful. Most children with heart defects live a normal and full life with very few or no restrictions.


What are the Types of Heart Diseases in Children?


1. Hole in the Heart:


It can form in the walls between heart chambers or between major blood vessels leaving the heart. In some situations, these holes allow oxygen-poor blood to mix with oxygen-rich blood, resulting in less oxygen being carried to your child’s body. Depending on the size of the hole, this lack of sufficient oxygen can cause the child’s skin or fingernails to appear blue or possibly lead to congestive heart failure.


2. Obstructed Blood Flow:


When blood vessels are narrow because of a heart defect, the heart works harder to pump blood through them. Ultimately, this leads to enlarging of the heart and thickening of the heart muscle.


3. Abnormal Blood Vessels:


Various congenital heart defects occur when blood vessels going to and from the heart don’t form correctly, or they’re not positioned the way they’re supposed to be.


A fault called transposition of the great arteries happens when the pulmonary artery and the aorta are on the wrong sides of the heart. A situation called coarctation of the aorta happens when the main blood vessel supplying blood to the body is too narrow. The total anomalous pulmonary venous connection is a defect which happens when blood vessels from the lungs attach to the wrong area of the heart.


4. Heart Valve Abnormalities:


If the heart valves cannot open and close correctly, blood can’t flow smoothly. The example of this type of defect is called Ebstein’s anomaly. In Ebstein’s anomaly, the tricuspid valve which is located between the right atrium and the right ventricle is malformed and often leaks.


5. An Underdeveloped Heart:


The major portion of the heart fails to develop properly. For example, the left side of the heart hasn’t developed enough to effectively pump enough blood to the body.


6. A Combination of Defects:


Some infants are born with some heart defects. Tetralogy of Fallot is a combination of four defects: a hole in the wall between the heart’s ventricles, a narrowed passage between the right ventricle and pulmonary artery, a shift in the connection of the aorta to the heart, and thickened muscle in the right ventricle.


What are the Symptoms of Heart Diseases in Children?


Various children with this defect appear healthy and have no symptoms, and their parents do not know they have a heart problem. If children do have symptoms, they frequently develop in the first few weeks after they are born. Common symptoms include:


1. Blue color around the lips and blue skin


2. Difficulty feeding (especially becoming sweaty during feeds)


3. Shortness of breath


4. Poor growth


5. Pale skin


6. Fatigue


These symptoms effect from a reduced oxygen supply to the body, which happens because the blood does not have as much oxygen as usual, or the heart does not pump as well as it should.


What Causes Heart Diseases in Children?


Sometimes there is a hole in the heart or a problem with the valves (e.g. they may be too narrow or completely blocked). It means either the blue or red blood gets mixed up, or the heart may not pump very well. When these problems begin, the body may not get as much oxygen as normal.


Although, a heart defect develops when the baby is still growing in the uterus. Usually, it is not caused by anything the mother did during her pregnancy, and often doctors cannot tell why the defect has happened. Heart problems are due to genetics (there is a family history of heart defects). Sometimes, illnesses in childhood cause damage to the heart. Children can easily get problems with their heart after a viral infection.


What are the Risk Factors of Heart Diseases in Children?


Some risk factors associated with heart diseases in children are mentioned below:


Rubella (German measles):


Having rubella during pregnancy can cause problems in the baby’s heart development. The doctor can test the immunity to this viral disease before pregnancy and vaccinate you against it if you aren’t immune.




It can reduce the risk of congenital heart defects by carefully controlling your diabetes before attempting to conceive and during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes doesn’t increase the baby’s risk of developing a heart defect.




Certain medications taken during pregnancy causes birth defects, including congenital heart defects. Consult your doctor about the complete list of medications you take before attempting to become pregnant.


Drinking Alcohol During Pregnancy:


Always keep in mind to avoid alcohol during pregnancy because it increases the risk of congenital heart defects.




During pregnancy, smoking increases the likelihood of a congenital heart defect in the baby.




Congenital heart defects sometimes run in families and may be connected with a genetic syndrome. Most of the children with Down syndrome which is caused by an extra 21st chromosome have heart defects.


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What are the Complications of Heart Diseases in Children?


Some complications are:


Congestive Heart Failure:


This complication develops in babies who have a significant heart defect. Symptoms include heart failure include rapid breathing, often with gasping breaths, and poor weight gain.


Slower Growth and Development


Children with this serious congenital heart defects often develop and grow more slowly than do children who don’t have heart defects. They are smaller than other children of the same age and, if the nervous system has been affected, may learn to walk and talk later than other children.


Heart Rhythm Problems:


Heart rhythm problems can be caused by a congenital heart defect or from scarring that forms after surgery to correct a congenital heart defect.




If your child’s heart defect causes oxygen-poor blood to mix with oxygen-rich blood in his or her heart, your child may develop a grayish-blue skin color, a condition called cyanosis.




Although uncommon, some children with congenital heart defects are at increased risk of stroke due to blood clots traveling through a hole in the heart and on to the brain.


Emotional Issues


Many children with this defect may feel insecure or develop emotional problems because of their size, activity restrictions or learning difficulties. Consult a child’s doctor if you’re concerned about your child’s moods.


How to Treat Heart Diseases in Children?


Congenital heart disease has no chronic effect on the child’s health in some instances, such defects can safely go untreated. Certain defects, such as small holes, may even correct themselves as the child ages.


Procedures Using Catheterization:


Some children and adults now have their congenital heart defects repaired using catheterization methods, which allow the repair to be done without surgically opening the chest and heart. Catheter procedures can frequently be used to fix holes or areas of narrowing.


Open-Heart Surgery:


This treatment majorly depends upon the child’s condition he or she may need surgery to repair the defect. Most of the congenital heart defects are corrected using open-heart surgery. In this surgery, the chest has to be opened.


In some cases, heart surgery may be an option. This surgery involves making small incisions between the ribs and inserting instruments through them to repair the defect.


Heart Transplant:


This treatment happens when a serious heart defect can’t be repaired, a heart transplant may be an option.




The congenital heart defects, especially those found later in childhood or adulthood, can be treated with medications which help the heart work more efficiently.




Here, we have discussed the heart diseases in children and it’s symptoms, types, causes, risk factors, and the treatment. The only way to cure these heart diseases is to take proper medications and proper treatment. And take care of your child as much as you can if your child is facing some serious problems so consult a doctor as soon as possible.


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