Fetal Cardiac Dysfunction
DefinitionFetal cardiac dysfunction refers to a number of heart problems in a growing fetus. For example, the heart can be:
- Pumping weakly
- Pumping irregularly
|Blood Flow Through the Heart|
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CausesCardiac dysfunction may be due to:
- Genetic diseases that affect the heart
- Problems with structures of the heart
- Exposure to certain substances such as drugs , alcohol , nicotine , and some medications
Risk FactorsGeneral risk factors for heart problems include:
- Family history of congenital heart defect
- Certain chromosomal disorders in the child
- Previous pregnancy with fetal heart abnormalities or miscarriage
- Conditions during pregnancy, such as:
SymptomsThe symptoms depend on the type of defect. The doctor will monitor your baby’s growth and heart rate during the pregnancy. During fetal monitoring, the doctor may detect an abnormal heartbeat, such as:
- Irregular—extra or missed beats
- Tachycardia —heart beats too fast
- Bradycardia —heart beats too slowly
- Abnormal heart structure
- Blood flow problems
DiagnosisFetal cardiac dysfunction can be detected using special tests during pregnancy.Images may be taken of your abdomen. This can be done with:amniocentesis .
TreatmentTalk with the doctor about the best treatment plan for your baby. During your pregnancy, you will need to be examined by specialists, such as:
- Perinatologist or maternal-fetal medicine specialist—a doctor who specializes in the treatment of high-risk pregnancies
- Pediatric cardiologist—a doctor who specializes in heart conditions in children
- Catheterization —a tube is inserted through the veins and into the heart for testing or a procedure
- Pacemaker insertion —a small, battery-operated device is inserted into the heart to maintain a normal heartbeat
PreventionMake sure you receive good prenatal care:
- Visit your doctor regularly. Your doctor will monitor your health and the health of your baby. Certain tests may be able to detect a heart defect in a growing fetus.
- Have a healthy lifestyle. Eat healthy food and take prenatal vitamins.
- Do not drink alcohol, smoke, or use drugs. This is especially important if you are pregnant.
American Academy of Pediatrics
American Heart Association
Canadian Cardiovascular Society
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Congenital heart defects. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/CongenitalHeartDefects/Congenital-Heart-Defects%5FUCM%5F001090%5FSubHomePage.jsp. Accessed July 19, 2013.
Congenital heart defects. Nemours' Kids Health website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/medical/heart/congenital%5Fheart%5Fdefects.html. Updated January 2012. Accessed July 19, 2013.
Evaluation and diagnosis. Children’s Hospital Boston website. Available at: http://childrenshospital.org/clinicalservices/Site540/mainpageS540P18.html. Accessed July 19, 2013.
Fetal echocardiography/your unborn baby's heart. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/CongenitalHeartDefects/SymptomsDiagnosisofCongenitalHeartDefects/Fetal-Echocardiography-Your-Unborn-Babys-Heart%5FUCM%5F315640%5FArticle.jsp. Accessed July 19, 2013.
Special tests for monitoring fetal health. American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq098.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20130719T0549108390. Accessed July 19, 2013.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 07/2013
- Update Date: 05/11/2013