More Awareness Needed About Heart Diseases Among Children

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New Delhi: As per a status report on the prevalence of congenital heart disease (CHD) in the country, the infant mortality rate (IMR) currently stands at 34 per 1000 live births. Approximately 10% of this may be accounted for by congenital heart diseases (CHD) alone. Every year, 1.5 lakh infants are born with CHD, of which 78,000 do not survive. As per the Children’s Heart Foundation, globally, 1 in 100 babies is born with a CHD and about 25% of them have critical CHD.

CHD occurs due to a problem with the structure of the heart. It is the most common type of birth defect. The defects can involve the walls of the heart, the valves, and the arteries and veins near the heart.

Speaking about this, Dr K KAggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Most CHDs can be corrected surgically, and the child can live a near normal life. Lakhs of children in India die every year because they cannot afford surgical intervention. All children with a murmur need evaluation to rule out underlying congenital heart disease. A murmur is an abnormal rumbling sound which can be auscultated by a stethoscope on the heart area. Even paramedics can pick up a murmur. CHDs can be classified as a blue baby or a non-blue baby. There was a time when no cure was available but today, many hospitals are performing surgeries in children with congenital heart disease with excellent outcomes.”

Signs and symptoms of severe defects in newborns include rapid breathing; Cyanosis - a bluish tint to the skin, lips, and fingernails; fatigue; and poor blood circulation.

Adding further, DrAggarwal, who is also the Group Editor of IJCP, said, “The treatment for CHD depends on the type and severity of the defect. Some babies have mild heart defects that heal on their own with time. Others may have severe defects that require extensive treatment. Depending on the defect, diagnosis and treatment may begin shortly after birth, during childhood, or in adulthood. Some defects don’t cause any symptoms until the child becomes an adult, so diagnosis and treatment may be delayed.”

Some tips to prevent CHD.

·       Consult your doctor before consuming any over-the-counter medications if you are pregnant or trying to conceive.

·       Keep your blood sugar levels under control before conceiving.

·       If you weren’t vaccinated against rubella, or German measles, avoid exposure to the disease and speak with your doctor about prevention options.

·       If you have a family history of congenital heart defects, ask your doctor about genetic screening. Certain genes may contribute to abnormal heart development.

·       Avoid drinking alcohol and using illegal drugs during pregnancy.

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