Childhood defects

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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:47 pm
Sometimes, children are born with heart abnormalities. Simple conditions such as innocent heart murmurs require no specific treatment and are generally outgrown by adulthood, while more complicated problems may require surgical repair. There are at least 15 fairly common congenital (kon-GEN-it-all) heart defects for which surgery is often recommended. Generally, the surgery is designed to restructure any part of the child's heart or related blood vessels that are malformed. For example, although babies are born with an opening between the major heart and lung blood vessels, this passageway normally closes within a few hours of birth. Sometimes, a hole is found in the wall or septum (SEP-tum) separating the heart's left and right sides. A hole in the heart prevents normal blood supply from reaching the body and allows oxygenated blood to mix with un-oxygenated blood. Another common pediatric heart abnormality involves obstruction in either the heart valves or its vessels, preventing sufficient blood supply to the heart and body. Another common childhood coronary defect is due to inadequately oxygenated blood, causing bluish skin. This 'cyanosis' (sigh-an-OH-sis) generally results from any of seven specific conditions, some of which are more complex and serious than others. If you're concerned about your child's heart condition, or have questions about childhood defects, contact a health-care provider.

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