Congenital heart disease is a large group of heart conditions or defects that develop in the foetus when the baby is in the mother's womb. Approximately, one child in every 100 is affected by congenital heart disease at birth. Here, we asked one of our leading paediatric cardiologists Dr Alessandro Giardini about the causes, treatment options and outlook for a baby or child diagnosed with congenital heart disease.
What causes congenital heart disease?
The causes of congenital heart disease can be multiple. In some families, there can be a genetic defect that can cause the abnormal development of the heart. In other families, there can be diabetes during pregnancy or exposure to drugs or substances during pregnancy. In other cases, there is no clear cause for the abnormal development of the heart.
What are some treatment options for congenital heart disease?
Children with congenital heart disease will need to have medications administered to help their heart in the process of healing. In some children, an intervention is required. This intervention could be either in the form of keyhole surgery with the use of special techniques where we can, for example, enlarge narrow valves or close holes in the heart.
In other cases, unfortunately, especially in smaller children, these keyhole options are not available and the child may require open-heart surgery or non-bypass surgery. This is typically used for newborns and very small children that require their condition to be treated. Most children make a very quick and full recovery and they have an excellent quality of life afterwards.
Can congenital heart disease be cured?
A large number of cardiac defects will improve over time and they may self-resolve as nature tries to heal the heart itself. Some children may require treatment for this, which can be either in the form of medications or operations or keyhole procedures. Nowadays, we can cure most forms of cardiac defects with very good results.
If you would like Dr Giardini to work with your little one, you can make an appointment to see him via his Top Doctor’s profile here. Can’t make it in person? Dr Giardini is also available for a video call using our e-Consultation tool, which is also accessible on his profile.