What is a heart murmur in babies – is it a cause for alarm?
Doctors normally hear a simple rhythm when listening to a child’s heart: “lub-dub, lub-dub, lub-dub…” Occasionally, they’ll hear an extra sound in between the lub and the dub. That extra sound is called a heart murmur.
Heart murmur in babies is quite common, despite their unpleasant name. Usually, they sound like a whooshing or swishing noise as blood is pumped through the heart chambers, valves, and arteries. Not often that they’ll need to be checked by an expert to rule out any issues.
What Is Heart Murmur in Babies
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a heart murmur in babies is just a noise heard between heartbeats. Heart murmur in babies are fairly common and are usually “innocent” or normal, despite the fact that they can be frightening for parents.
Types of murmurs include:
- Systolic murmur. A heart murmur occurs when the heart contracts.
- Diastolic murmur. A heart murmur occurs when the heart relaxes.
- Continuous murmur. A heart murmur occurs throughout. the heartbeat.
Innocent heart murmurs in babies (also known as functional or physiologic murmurs) are completely harmless, and a large percentage of youngsters will have experienced them at some point in their lives. A healthy heart pumps blood normally, resulting in these murmurs.
If your child has such a murmur, it will most likely be noticed during a regular examination when they are between the ages of 1 and 5. By listening to a murmur with a stethoscope, your child’s doctor can typically detect if it’s normal.
Is it normal for babies to have heart murmurs?
Parents may be concerned if their child is diagnosed with a heart murmur. Heart murmur in babies, on the other hand, are fairly common, and many children are discovered to have one at some point. The majority of murmurs are harmless and have no impact on a child’s health.
When Do Heart Murmurs Occur
According to AAP, heart murmurs are a concern when they occur very early at birth or during the first 6 months of life. These murmurs, common in premature babies, are not innocent, and most likely will require the attention of a paediatric cardiologist immediately.
By the time your child is in preschool and school-aged, heart murmurs are almost always not a concern.
It’s possible that innocent murmurs will subside and then reappear. Murmurs may become louder or softer as a child’s heart rate fluctuates, such as when they are delighted or terrified. When a child has a fever or is anaemic, murmurs can be heard.
By the middle of adolescence, most typical heart murmurs have disappeared. Your child will not require any restrictions on diet or activities. He or she can be just like any other regular, healthy, and active child.
Image from Shutterstock
What Causes Heart Murmur in Babies
Normal, healthy children may have heart murmurs also called innocent murmurs. A child may be born with a cardiac defect that generates a murmur in some situations. These are referred to as pathologic. Murmurs can also be caused by:
- Low hematocrit (the number of red blood cells in the body) (anaemia)
- A thyroid gland that is overactive (hyperthyroidism)
- Valve disease of the heart
Symptoms of Heart Murmur in Babies
Babies with innocent murmurs have no other symptoms aside from abnormal heart sounds. In the case of children having pathological heart murmurs, one or more of the following symptoms may be present. They differ based on the issue.
- Poor nutrition, eating habits, or weight gain
- Shortness of breath or breathing fast
- Enlarged neck veins
- Heavy sweating with little or no activity
- Chest pain
- Feeling dizzy or faint (syncope)
- Skin that is bluish, especially around the lips and fingertips
- Oedema (swelling) of the lower legs, ankles, and feet, as well as the belly (abdomen), liver, and neck veins
The symptoms of a cardiac murmur can be similar to those of other illnesses. Make an appointment for your child to see his or her doctor for a diagnosis.
Your doctor and a paediatric cardiologist can evaluate if the murmur is innocent (meaning your child is healthy) or if there is a specific heart problem. If an issue arises, the paediatric cardiologist will know how to effectively address it.
Tests for heart murmur in babies
If your doctor is concerned about your child’s heart murmur, an ECG and a chest X-ray may be ordered.
Your child’s doctor may also recommend him or her to a cardiologist, who will do echocardiography.
Heart Murmur in Babies: Treatment
Image Source: Shutterstock
Innocent murmurs don’t need any treatment. Your paediatrician and paediatric cardiologist will discuss whether treatment is necessary if your kid has a pathologic murmur.
Medicine, treatments, or surgery may be used to treat the condition. Note that treatment will also be determined by the symptoms, age, and overall health of your child. It will also be determined by the severity of the ailment.
Treatment options vary depending on the severity of the problem and may include the following:
- Keeping an eye on your child for signs and symptoms
- Non-surgical treatments for repairing the heart’s blood vessels
- Reconstructive surgery for the heart
Medications and follow-up care, as well as referral to a pediatric cardiac surgeon, may be required depending on the type of pathologic murmur your kid has.
If the heart murmur is caused by a problem, it will normally fade or disappear once the issue is treated.
When to Worry About Heart Murmur in Babies
Call your child’s healthcare provider if your child has any symptoms of heart disease such as:
- Trouble feeding or eating
- Doesn’t gain weight normally
- Trouble breathing
- Rapid breathing or blue lips
- Blue legs or feet
- Passing out
- Tiredness or trouble exercising
- Chest pain
To rule out the possibility of a problem, a paediatric cardiologist will do a thorough examination, which may involve heart tests such as an ECG or echocardiography. Because a murmur can be the only symptom of structural heart disease, it’s crucial to get a complete examination.
Keep in mind that healthy children and teenagers often have cardiac murmurs. The majority of them aren’t reflective of a heart problem, are harmless, and will go away on their own.
Should you have any concerns about any symptoms that your newborn is having, don’t hesitate to consult with your child’s paediatrician right away.
This article was written by Matt Doctor and republished with permission from theAsianparent Philippines.
Here at theAsianparent Singapore, it’s important for us to give information that is correct, significant, and timely. But this doesn’t serve as an alternative for medical advice or medical treatment. theAsianparent Singapore is not responsible for those that would choose to drink medicines based on information from our website. If you have any doubts, we recommend consulting your doctor for clearer information.