February 26, 2024

Heart Health in Children: Common Conditions, Genetic Factors, and Warning Signs

Embarking on a vital exploration of pediatric heart health, this journey delves into the most prevalent conditions, genetic complexities, and crucial warning signs that parents should be aware of. With approximately 1 in 1,000 children being born with a heart condition, understanding the spectrum is critical. Discover the distinctive landscape where less than 10% require corrective interventions and explore the rare but impactful genetic factors linked to heart problems.

Discover the key signs in babies – feeding difficulties, poor weight gain, recurrent chest infections, sweating forehead and rapid breathing – to enable parents to recognize potential concerns as early as 2-3 months. This comprehensive guide aims to equip families with knowledge, promoting proactive measures for pediatric cardiac well-being.

India Today spoke to Dr. Srinivas Lakshmivenkateshiah, Consultant Interventional Pediatric Cardiologist, Head of Pediatric Cardiology, Jupiter Hospital Thane, to get more information on the subject.

UNDERSTANDING TREATMENT AND GENETIC CONSIDERATIONS

Most of the children we see in our OPD are born with heart disease. The incidence of a child born with heart damage is 1:1,000. Fortunately for them, not all children will need treatment and most of them are self-sufficient or insignificant. Less than 10% of these children will require corrective surgery or procedures to cure the disease.

“Only a few injuries have a strong genetic association. But they are rare and will need proper genetic counseling and full evaluation only in high-risk pregnancies,” says Dr. Srinivas Lakshmivenkateshiah.

He also mentioned that children who are born with heart disease have difficulty breastfeeding and are often tired while breastfeeding. They may have poor weight gain, repeated chest infections, excessive forehead sweating, and rapid breathing. Generally, these symptoms can be observed as early as 2-3 months of age. Some babies may even appear blue due to low oxygen saturation in their blood.

NUTRITIONAL INFLUENCES ON PEDIATRIC HEART HEALTH: FROM PREGNANCY TO PREVENTION

Although there may not be a general link between poor nutrition and heart disease in children, a mother’s nutrition during pregnancy plays an important role in preventing heart disease in the fetus. Older children and school-age children need to have a healthy, balanced diet combined with regular physical activity to prevent lifestyle-related diseases such as diabetes, obesity and hypertension.

“Create awareness about congenital heart disease, emphasize early detection, and shed light on the possibility of cure for the vast majority of children with heart disease,” says Dr. Lakshmivenkateshiah

He also mentioned that general health check-up is not for children. A regular visit to the pediatrician for vaccinations and assessment of the baby’s condition is enough. Only children with signs or symptoms of heart disease need to see a pediatric cardiologist on the recommendation of their pediatrician.

Dr. Lakshmivenkateshiah said most critical heart injuries are fatal if left untreated. Since initial signs and symptoms are difficult to diagnose, there is a tendency to delay treatment due to parental care and concern. This harms a child’s prospects for a long, healthy life. Late referrals for treatment of heart disease are associated with excessive complication rates, even with the best treatment.

“Medications need to be prescribed by an experienced pediatric cardiologist according to the child’s condition. Your pediatric cardiologist should be able to advise on the possible side effects of each medication at once,” said Dr. Lakshmivenkateshiah.

Finally, he mentioned that general measures are recommended for a healthy upbringing of children. A growing child should have adequate and appropriate nutritional support, positive emotional support from all family members, a stimulating and conducive environment at home, general limitation on exposure to screens, etc. should be the way forward.

ADVANCES IN PEDIATRIC CARDIOLOGY:

As with all other specialties, pediatric cardiology is a rapidly evolving specialty, with rapid advances in research in terms of disease prevention, treatment and care. In the current era, many heart defects can be cured with a success rate greater than 99% and in many cases even without open heart surgery. Parents of children with heart defects should consult a pediatric cardiologist for specific advice about their child’s needs.

“Some heart diseases can run in families, although they are very rare. Heart disease can occur in certain high-risk pregnancies, elderly couples, diabetic mothers, mothers who have a febrile illness such as rubella during pregnancy, pregnant women exposed to certain medications, repeated miscarriages, and a family history of a child born with problems. cardiac. disease or, if the pregnant woman/father herself has congenital heart disease. These couples need appropriate genetic counseling. Many heart diseases can be detected even before a child is born with an ultrasound, called a fetal echocardiogram. Fetal echocardiograms are performed routinely and are most useful in high-risk situations, as mentioned above. Genetic counseling also needs to be adapted and limited to high-risk pregnancies only,” says Dr. Srinivas Lakshmivenkateshiah.

MARATHON TO BE FLAGED:

Jupiter Thane Marathon ’24, an initiative by Jupiter Hospital, is back, bringing together marathon runners and fitness enthusiasts from across the city to run for a cause. This year, the marathon will help raise funds for pediatric heart treatments and will see the who’s who of Thane running alongside medical professionals and students to help little hearts stay healthy.

Scheduled to be held on January 7, 2024, the marathon will have three distance categories – 5k, 10km and 21km – and participants will be able to register through ticketing platforms. The races begin at 6 am at Raymond Gate, Pokhran No. 2 and are supported by the Thane District Athletic Association and others. About 6,000 Participants are expected to register for the event, the proceeds of which will be used to help children in need of pediatric heart treatment.

Published by:

Megha Chaturvedi

Published in:

November 9, 2023

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