A congenital disease is one that exists at birth. Congenital heart disease in children is caused by a congenital heart defect, which is the most common type of birth defect. Defects can occur in blood vessels, heart valves, and within the walls separating the heart’s chambers.
At Dignity Health North State, our doctors can find many heart defects during a pregnancy ultrasound or other prenatal testing. Not all defects are serious, but when a baby’s health is at risk, you need a specialist to make a diagnosis and oversee your child’s care. Use our Find a Doctor tool to make an appointment with cardiologist experienced in caring for babies with congenital heart disease in Northern California.
In addition to maternal and fetal care at Mercy Medical Center Mt. Shasta and St. Elizabeth Community Hospital in Red Bluff, we have a neonatal intensive care unit at Mercy Medical Center Redding to care for seriously ill newborns.
Recognizing Signs of Congenital Heart Disease at Dignity Health North State
Minor heart defects in babies may cause no noticeable symptoms of congenital heart disease, or may cause problems later in life. With serious heart defects, the baby is in distress at birth or within a few days or weeks after birth. Congenital heart disease can lead to congenital heart failure, which is when the baby’s heart is unable to function as well as it needs to.
Signs of congenital heart disease your doctor looks for include:
- Bluish or dusky skin color
- Clubbing of the fingers
- Rapid breathing or breathing with difficulty
- Swelling of the legs, arms and abdomen
- Tiring easily, which may include poor feeding
What Causes Congenital Heart Disease?
Some genetic syndromes and gene mutations are known to cause congenital heart disease in children, but oftentimes the exact cause is not known. Other causes include exposure of the fetus to infection, certain medications, or toxic substances, such as alcohol and tobacco.
Congenital Heart Disease Treatment
An early diagnosis of a heart defect and congenital heart disease gives doctors time to understand the problem and plan the most appropriate treatment. A maternal-fetal medicine specialist or pediatric cardiologist will explain the condition to you and coordinate your child’s treatment.
Treatment options for congenital heart disease may include medication to manage the symptoms and heart surgery to fix the heart defect. We perform many pediatric heart surgeries at our medical centers and provide referrals when necessary.
Talk to your doctor today for more information about diagnosis and treatment of congenital heart disease in Northern California.
Dignity Health North State provides skilled care for fetal conditions, including congenital heart disease, in Mt. Shasta, Red Bluff, and Redding, CA.