While congenital heart diseases are shown as the most common cause of congenital anomalies in newborns, many parents may have concerns about their babies' heart health. Many congenital heart diseases can be diagnosed early with the fetal echocardiography method, which allows the baby's heart to be examined while still in the mother's womb. In order to intervene in the detected heart disease at birth, parents can be directed to appropriate centers and early and correct intervention can be planned. Memorial Ankara Hospital Pediatric Cardiology Department Prof. Dr. Feyza Ayşenur Paç gave information about heart problems in babies.
Occurs early in pregnancy
Congenital heart diseases (CHDs) are structural diseases that occur in the early stages of pregnancy and are found in the heart of the baby. While these diseases exist from the moment the baby is born, some of them are mild and only followed up, while some of them are more severe and require treatment.
Pay attention to the first two months of pregnancy!
The development of the hearts of babies in the womb is 3-8. takes place between weeks. Developmental defects that may occur during this period may lead to congenital heart diseases in infants. However, symptoms may develop in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters of pregnancy related to conditions such as rhythm disorders.
Pay attention to risk-increasing factors!
Some problems and diseases seen in expectant mothers can cause anomaly in the heart of their babies. Factors that increase the risk of cardiac anomaly are as follows:
- Exposure of the mother to certain agents (teratogens), drugs or infections that cause developmental disorders in the baby,
- The use of certain drugs and substances,
- Mother's excessive alcohol consumption
- Maternal rubella, cytomegalovirus infection and exposure to high-dose ionizing radiation during the first trimester of pregnancy,
- Presence of diabetes in the mother (The risk of congenital heart disease increases from 0.6-0.8 percent to 4-6% in cases where diabetes is not controlled in the early period. This risk ratio is 14 percent for babies of mothers with phenylketonuria)
- Connective tissue diseases in the mother,
- Having a family history of congenital heart disease, especially in the mother.
With fetal echo, heart anomalies of the baby in the womb can be detected
These anomalies that may develop in the heart of the baby in the mother's womb can be detected by the ultrasonographic method, fetal echocardiography, also called "Fetal echo" for short. In this method, information about the structural state and functions of the heart can be obtained through ultrasonic sound waves.
Congenital heart diseases are among the most common anomalies.
Congenital heart diseases are diseases that occur during the development of the baby in the mother's womb. Fetal echocardiography can reveal the findings of some conditions in which the heart is secondary that develops due to non-cardiac factors such as congenital heart diseases, various rhythm disorders, anemia. While the incidence of CHD, which is one of the most common anomalies present at birth, is between 1-2%, the incidence of these diseases in the womb may reach higher levels.
It is a safe method for mother and baby
18-22 weeks of pregnancy is the most suitable time interval for fetal echo application. Fetal echocardiography is performed by imaging the baby's heart through appropriate probes from the abdominal surface of the mother. This procedure, which is a reliable method for the mother and the fetus, has no harm. When it comes to connective tissue diseases and rhythm disorders, it is important to perform this procedure in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters of pregnancy.
It should be applied to high-risk groups.
Fetal echocardiography should be applied to high-risk groups in order to detect congenital heart diseases. Risky groups include those with a positive family history, expectant mothers with certain diseases, exposure to teratogens (agents) during pregnancy, intrauterine infection such as rubella, reported fetal anomalies, amniotic fluid anomalies, presence of chromosomal anomalies, twin pregnancies, monozygotic twins and conjoined twins. . However, fetal echo can be applied to mothers with abnormal test results as well as to mothers who are older.
Diagnosis affects the course of the disease after birth
CHD is one of the most frequently missed anomalies in prenatal ultrasound studies. Prenatal diagnosis of these diseases significantly affects the course of the patient after birth, especially in some congenital heart diseases. In addition to ultrasonography scans, the frequency of which is increasing in the world, fetal heart evaluation is increasingly demanded.
All expectant mothers should have fetal echo screening.
Fetal echocardiography is primarily performed on mothers who are in the risk group. However, it was observed that 90 percent of the anomalies found in routine fetal echocardiography scans were detected in the babies of expectant mothers who had no risk. In other words, the fact that the mother carries no risk does not mean that her baby will not have CHD. For this reason, it is important for all expectant mothers to have fetal echocardiography screening.
Many heart diseases are treatable
Many heart diseases can be treated today. Treatment options vary according to the type of anomaly, gestational age, accompanying major anomalies and ethical status. In cases where congenital heart diseases are detected by fetal echo, evaluation is made according to the state of the pathology. In such cases where the mother and baby need to be followed up, parents are directed to appropriate centers for the necessary intervention at birth. Thus, it is ensured that early and correct intervention is planned for the baby.
In fetal echocardiography scans, families are informed about the option of terminating the pregnancy up to the 24th week in babies with severe heart disease. In addition, when there is a rhythm disorder in the fetus, the drugs given to the mother help to regulate the rhythm of the baby.