What are the most frequent congenital heart diseases in newborns and how to manage them? Let’s find out what they are and their cause
February 14 is the World Congenital Heart Disease Day. Congenital heart diseases are malformations of the heart and great vessels often incompatible with life, but the Italian Society of Neonatology sends a positive message to parents. In fact, today they can all be cured with a high probability of success. Let’s see together which are the most common heart diseases.
Congenital heart diseases are divided into simple and complex and therefore present a great clinical variability, ranging from minor pathologies, which often resolve spontaneously, to more complex problems. They are called simple when the malformation concerns a septal defect or a valvular malformation; complex when multiple defects occur.
Let’s see together which are the most important.
In this article
The causes of congenital heart disease
The causes that lead to congenital heart disease are unknown. They are called “congenital” not because there is a passage from the parents to the child but because they are already present in the fetus. The origin of all heart disease is an abnormality in the formation and development of the heart between the second and ninth week of gestation. Prevention before giving birth is therefore essential to try to reduce the possibility of congenital heart disease. It is therefore important to consult your doctor before planning a pregnancy, in order to start an appropriate lifestyle with the addition of all possible preventive measures such as folic acid, to be started at least 3 months before conception and the cessation of smoking. and alcohol. In fact, these malformations begin to cause problems after birth.
Transposition of the great arteries
This anomaly is diagnosed through echocardiography and is cured with a definitive intervention. The aorta and the pulmonary artery are reversed: the first arises from the right ventricle and the second from the left ventricle, therefore contrary to normal. Diagnosis is possible already in fetal life and the baby is operated on in the first or second week of life.
In this case the baby is born with a defective or absent pulmonary valve. It is diagnosed before birth and is corrected with a series of surgeries. Some are done in the first days or weeks of the baby’s life and others afterward.
This heart disease consists of a narrowing or constriction of the aorta and is usually diagnosed from the second week of the baby’s life. At birth, the baby does not show any symptoms. Parents subsequently experience: irritability, increased respiratory rate and labored breathing, difficulty in feeding, poor growth and pale or grayish skin. It is treated surgically with low risk and satisfactory results
Aortic valve stenosis
Aortic valve stenosis is a reduction in the ability of the aortic valve to open and is diagnosed with a heart murmur with echocardiography. If mild or moderate, the child will not have to undergo immediate treatment and will be able to lead a normal life for a long time. Being a condition that worsens over time, it is necessary to control the cardiovascular conditions.
Total anomalous pulmonary venous return
Total anomalous pulmonary venous return accounts for 1% -2% of congenital heart defects. In this case the pulmonary veins connect to the right atrium instead of the left atrium. Due to the additional blood the heart has to work harder than normal. Newborns have difficulty breathing and a bluish discoloration of the skin. The diagnosis is made with an echocardiogram and is treated surgically
In the Covid era
Breastfeeding mothers and new mothers can carry out the vaccine for Covid-19, which was in fact compatible with breastfeeding, to protect their health and that of the newborn.