Patent Ductus Arteriosus

Definition

A patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) is a type of congenital (present at birth) heart problem.The pulmonary artery is a blood vessel that moves blood from the heart to the lungs. The aorta is a blood vessel that moves blood from the heart out to the rest of the body. Before birth, the baby gets its oxygen from the mother, so its lungs are not used. The ductus arteriosus is a small passageway between the pulmonary artery and the aorta that allows blood in the baby to bypass the unused lungs and carry oxygen to the other organs.In most babies, the ductus arteriosus closes within a few hours of birth. This is normal. When the ductus arteriosus stays open, blood travels in the wrong direction between the aorta and pulmonary artery. This causes too much blood to flow through the lungs.
Patent Ductus Arteriosus
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Causes

In most cases, the cause is not known. However, in a small number of cases, PDA could be caused by exposure during pregnancy to a viral infection, rubella , drugs , or alcohol . In some children, congenital heart disease, including PDA, may be caused by genetic factors.

Risk Factors

Premature babies are at increased risk, although a patent ductus often closes when the baby becomes more mature. PDA may be more common in female babies or babies born at high altitudes. In most cases occurring in full term babies, there are no known risk factors for PDA.

Symptoms

Symptoms vary with the size of the ductus and the amount of blood that flows through it. If the ductus is small, there may be no symptoms. When symptoms occur, they include:
  • Rapid breathing
  • Labored breathing
  • Getting tired quickly
  • Poor growth
In some babies, symptoms may not occur until a few weeks or months after birth. Occasionally, PDA is not found until a much later age. Even when there are no symptoms, the baby is at higher risk for a serious infection called endocarditis .

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