Symptoms of Children with Heart Defects

Congenital heart diseases are present from birth. But they are noticed at different ages. Heart defects show symptoms at various ages in children. The age at which the child shows symptoms depends on the type and severity of defect.

Some complex, severe defects are obvious right from birth or within a few days of birth. Usually these conditions present with bluish discoloration of the skin (cyanosis) or pale skin and poor circulation. If you find these features in a new-born baby make sure you take them to the hospital IMMEDIATELY! 

Less severe conditions may be detected later in life either due to difficulty in breathing and feeding or as a random finding of a murmur (unusual noise from the heart) which is picked up by the family doctor.Heart defects can cause feeding problems in small babies and the typical pattern is that they cannot feed very long so they take small feeds frequently and are constantly hungry. They can also become very sweaty during feedings or when crying. Babies with heart problems are also more prone to getting chest infections or pneumonia which may sometimes need admission to hospital.

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Baby with bluish skin due to poor circulation

Older children can present with chest discomfort/pain and palpitations (fast beating of the heart). Chest pain in children is usually not related to the heart but a careful examination and assessment should be performed by a cardiologist or general doctor.  Palpitations may be the sign of electrical disturbances in the heart and these can be easily treated nowadays. Some children may show effort intolerance where they have difficulty keeping up with other children their age while playing or exercising. Thorough investigation would be required.

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Exercise intolerance in children with heart defects