Fetal Cardiac Dysfunction
Fetal cardiac dysfunction is the name for a number of heart problems in a growing fetus. It happens when the heart is pumping weakly or out of sync.. This makes it hard for the heart to move blood through the body as it should. It can cause danger to the baby.
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Fetal cardiac dysfunction may be caused by:
Things that may raise the risk of fetal cardiac dysfunction are:
- Having other family members who had heart problems at birth
- Chromosome problems in the fetus
- Prior pregnancy with heart problems or miscarriage
- Health problems during pregnancy, such as:
- Having a virus, such as rubella
- Having diabetes
- Drinking alcohol or using drugs
- Taking certain medicines
- Not enough blood getting to the baby
The symptoms depend on the type of defect. Problems may be:
- Out of sync, extra, or missed heartbeats
- Heart beats too fast
- Heart beats too slowly
Fetal cardiac dysfunction can be found using special tests before a child is born.
Pictures may be taken of the mother's belly. This can be done with:
The baby’s fluids may be tested. This can be done with amniocentesis.
Fetal cardiac dysfunction sometimes gets better on its own. In others, treatment will be needed based on the type of defect.
Surgery may be done to correct the problem while the baby is still in the womb. A baby may also have surgery after birth, such as:
People who are pregnant should not drink alcohol, smoke, or use drugs. Regular prenatal care is also important.
- Congenital heart defects. American Heart Association website. Available at: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/congenital-heart-defects.
- Congenital heart defects. Kid's Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/if-heart-defect.html.
- Fetal monitoring during labor. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/fetal-monitoring-during-labor.
- Kari Kuenn, MD
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