Critical Congenital Heart Disease Screening is an important topic and all parents and expecting couples should be aware of it.
Did you know that 1 in 100 babies is born with critical congenital heart disease (CCHD)? All pregnant women must have a CCHD screening during their prenatal care.
The good thing is, that a simple ultrasound screening test can detect most CCHDs. This article will teach you more about Critical Congenital Heart Disease Screening and why it is so important.
What Is Critical Congenital Heart Disease?
Critical Congenital Heart Disease (CCHD) is a type of heart defect present at birth. These defects can cause serious health problems and may need surgery to correct them. CCHD can affect any part of the heart, but the most common type is a hole in the heart. Newborns with CCHD often have other health problems, such as lung or kidney problems.
CCHD is usually diagnosed before birth. But is sometimes diagnosed after delivery if the baby has symptoms. Treatment for CCHD depends on the type of defect. There is no cure for CCHD, but many babies with this condition live long and healthy lives.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of CCHD?
Critical Congenital Heart Disease is a severe illness. It affects the heart and lungs and can be life-threatening if not treated. The most common symptom of Critical Congenital Heart Disease is shortness of breath. Other symptoms include:
Breathing difficulty is a common symptom of critical congenital heart disease. A child with this disorder may experience difficulty breathing. This happens especially when doing something as simple as walking or running.
The heart and lungs are not working together as they should, so they can’t provide enough oxygen to keep up with your child’s physical activity.
The most common symptom of critical congenital heart disease is rapid breathing. The baby’s breathing will be faster than average, and you may notice that your baby has a fever. Fluid buildup in the lungs can cause this. If this happens, your doctor will want to start treatment right away.
A heart defect characterises this condition. That affects how blood flows to and from the lungs, creating an imbalance in oxygen supply and demand. The body will automatically increase your breathing rate to compensate for this imbalance.
Chest pain is a common symptom of critical congenital heart disease. It’s a sharp, stabbing pain or dull ache. It may also feel like someone is squeezing the chest or performing CPR. And it can radiate through the upper back or neck. Physical activity and coughing can cause chest pains. But it’s also possible to experience it while resting.
Low blood pressure often causes fainting spells caused by poor circulation. Or a rapid heartbeat that’s pumping too much blood at once.
It can happen in children with critical congenital heart disease because their hearts cannot pump enough blood through their bodies.
One of the most common symptoms of congenital heart disease is fatigue, which can occur due to many factors. The first factor is that the heart will have to work harder than usual to pump blood throughout your body.
Also, you may notice that your child is tired when doing any physical activity. Because their body is working harder than they would. It’s usually to compensate for the lack of oxygen-rich blood flow.
Bluish Colour of the Skin
Newborns are known to have pinkish or sometimes a tinge of purple in their skin. It’s a normal characteristic that they have.
However, if your baby’s skin is leaning towards the bluish sign, bring them to their paediatrician to get checked.
This symptom can occur when there is a problem with the heart’s ability to pump blood. It can happen if there is too much fluid in the body. Or an obstruction in one of the blood vessels. When this happens, blood does not move as it should through the body. It causes blood to pool in some areas and not flow properly through others.
If you think your child may have critical congenital heart disease, the first thing to look for is low blood pressure. This symptom can be difficult to notice. Because it’s so common in newborns and infants. But if your baby has a lower than normal blood pressure, bring this up with your paediatrician.
Babies with low blood pressure can have trouble getting enough oxygen. This can cause anaemia (low red blood cell count) and an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia).
What Is Critical Congenital Heart Disease Screening?
CCHD screening is a way to identify babies who may have a heart defect. The screening includes measuring the baby’s oxygen saturation levels with a pulse oximeter. If the oxygen saturation levels are low, it may show a heart defect.
CCHD screening is crucial because it can help identify babies needing further testing and treatment. Early diagnosis and treatment of congenital heart defects can improve affected babies’ outcomes.
How Is Critical Congenital Heart Disease Screening in Newborns Done?
Critical Congenital Heart Disease screening is typically done using Pulse Oximetry. A soft, painless sensor is placed on your baby’s right hand and/or foot. The sensor sends a beam of light through the skin to measure how much oxygen is in the blood.
Low oxygen levels can be a sign of CCHD. The normal values for CCHD screening are as follows:
Pulse oximetry reading ≥95% and no cyanosis visible.
Initial test results that are abnormal need a repeat test or a diagnostic evaluation.
Why Is Critical Congenital Heart Disease Screening in Newborns Important?
Newborn screenings are important. Because they can help identify babies with certain health conditions. One of the conditions screened for is Critical Congenital Heart Disease.
CCHD can be severe and even life-threatening, so it’s essential to catch it early. Babies with CCHD often need treatment immediately. And the earlier they get treatment, the better their chances of a healthy recovery.
Often, CCHD is curable if caught early enough. That’s why newborn screenings are so important – they can save lives.
Parents must be aware of CCHD testing and make sure their babies undergo the test as early as possible. Don’t hesitate to discuss this with your child’s paediatrician.
What Are the Risks of Not Screening for CCHD in Newborns?
There are several risks associated with not screening for CCHD in newborns. First, undetected CCHD can lead to serious health problems. Including heart failure and death.
Second, CCHD can be challenging to diagnose later in life. When symptoms may be less noticeable.
Third, treatment for CCHD may be more complex and expensive. If the condition is not detected early.
If CCHD goes undetected and untreated, it can lead to severe complications, including:
- Heart failure
- Brain damage
If Diagnosed with Critical Congenital Heart Disease, What Should Parents Do Next?
If your child is diagnosed with CCHD, it’s important to take action to protect their health. CCHD can be a serious condition, and it’s important to get treatment as soon as possible.
There are many options available for treatment, and the sooner you start, the better.
The first step is to talk to your doctor about your child’s Critical Congenital Heart Disease Screening results. Your doctor will be able to provide you with more information about the condition. And help you create a plan for treatment.
Also, it is important to educate yourself about CCHD and its symptoms. This way, you can recognise if your child’s condition worsens. You’ll be able to take the necessary action.
Finally, stay in close communication with your child’s medical team. They will be able to provide you with the most up-to-date information. And support you through this difficult time.
With early diagnosis and treatment, your child can lead a healthy and happy life.
Image Source: iStock
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