What Is Pediatric Congenital Heart Disease?

Congenital heart disease (CHD) is known to affect people of all ages from around the globe, but the challenges begin very early. This condition affects nearly 1% of births in the United States alone, impacting 40,000 births on average a year. The nature of CHD can vary from one case to the next, with some bringing a long list of unpleasant symptoms that put those with CHD at an increased risk of other health problems.

Defining Pediatric Congenital Heart Disease

Congenital heart disease (CHD) is one of the most common birth defects that impact babies on a regular basis. People with these conditions can live long and comfortable lives, but it can have a negative impact depending on the nature of the condition itself. On average, 1 in 4 newborns has a critical CHD, which can create a need for immediate intervention.

Children with CHD can vary by case. Congenital heart disease is a very broad term for a long list of different problems that might be impacting a child’s heart.

Common Examples Include:

  • Aortic valve stenosis
  • Coarctation of the aorta
  • Ventricular septal defect
  • Hypoplastic left heart syndrome
  • Atrial septal defect

Who Does CHD Impact?

Different kinds of congenital heart disease can impact children of all ages, often starting right at birth. Newborns can experience a wide range of effects, which can be particularly difficult for parents as well. There is no age limit on CHD and who it can impact, though small children can sometimes be at an increased risk of side effects depending on the severity. Some variations of CHD require medical intervention or even surgeries, which can be difficult and even dangerous for smaller bodies.

Symptoms of CHD

Depending on the nature of the condition, CHD can manifest itself in different ways—and these differences can come with unique setbacks for those who are impacted. Some symptoms are incredibly common, but not every person receives the most common symptoms in every case. It is also possible for symptoms to vary in severity and duration as children grow.

Common Symptoms Include:

  • Rapid breathing (particularly during physical activities)
  • Chronic fatigue at all levels of activity (even during breastfeeding for infants)
  • Slow growth for babies in weight or size, particularly compared to peers at their age
  • Heart murmurs
  • Poor circulation (including additional symptoms caused by poor circulation)
  • Cyanosis (characterized as a blue tint to skin, nails, and lips)
  • Excessive sweating with minimal activity
  • Physical pain

Treating CHD

Since there are different kinds of congenital heart disease, treating CHD can vary from one person to the next. Some children might embrace a lifestyle change while others might require surgery, medication, and other kinds of interventions. In some instances, doctors will place a catheter in a patient’s heart to manage the physical damage to the area. By doing this, doctors can repair damage and insert stents to help support the heart further. If traditional methods cannot be used to treat the condition, doctors might recommend a heart transplant to offer the highest quality of life.

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