Fetal Cardiac Dysfunction


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
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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 defects
  • 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 medications, such as isotretinoin for acne
    • Poor blood supply to the fetus


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:
  • Irregular, extra, or missed heartbeats
  • Heart beats too fast—tachycardia
  • Heart beats too slowly—bradycardia
During imaging tests, the doctor may also detect:
  • Abnormal heart structure
  • Blood flow problems

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