Truncus Arteriosus—Child

Definition

Truncus arteriosus is a defect in the large blood vessels that leave the heart.Normally, two large blood vessels, called the aorta and pulmonary artery carry blood away from the heart. The aorta carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the rest of the body. The pulmonary artery carries oxygen-poor blood from the heart to the lungs. As the heart develops. a section of these two blood vessels sometimes combine together. It creates one large vessel called the truncus arteriosus. The oxygen-poor and oxygen-rich blood leaving the heart mix in this combined blood vessel. The mixed blood decreases the amount of oxygen-rich blood that reaches the body.The defect also includes a large hole in the wall between the lower chambers of the heart.
Heart Chambers and Valves
heart anatomy
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Blood Flow Through the Heart
IMAGE
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Causes

Truncus arteriosus is a problem with the development of the heart while the baby is in the womb. It is not known exactly why some hearts develop this way.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase the risk for congenital heart disease may include:
  • Chromosomal disorders such as Down syndrome or DiGeorge syndrome
  • Conditions during pregnancy, such as:
    • Viral infection such as rubella
    • Poorly controlled diabetes
    • Alcohol consumption
    • Smoking
    • Taking certain medications such as thalidomide

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June 2015

A meta-analysis found that mothers participating in a prenatal exercise group were less likely to have a large newborn, less likely to need a cesarean section, and no more likely to have a low birthweight baby than those who did not exercise. The study supports proper prenatal care advice which advocates for mothers to exercise during pregnancy if allowed by the physician.

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