Fetal Cardiac Dysfunction

Definition

Fetal cardiac dysfunction refers to a number of heart problems in a growing fetus. For example, the heart can be:
  • Pumping weakly
  • Pumping irregularly
The heart is not adequately able to move blood through the fetus’ body. This can cause distress in the fetus. The condition can range from mild to severe.
Blood Flow Through the Heart
IMAGE
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

Cardiac dysfunction may be due to:
  • Genetic diseases that affect the heart
  • Problems with structures of the heart
  • Infections
  • Exposure to certain substances such as drugs , alcohol , nicotine , and some medications

Risk Factors

General 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:
    • Being infected with a virus such as rubella
    • Having poorly controlled diabetes
    • Drinking alcohol
    • Taking certain medicines such as isotretinoin for acne
    • Poor blood supply to the fetus

Symptoms

The 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:During imaging tests, the doctor may also detect:
  • Abnormal heart structure
  • Blood flow problems

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