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What causes problem with the fetal heart functions with the heart valves?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2008
Answered : 3385 Questions
I have a friend who up until yesterday was told that her unborn child had a perfect heart that sounds fine. Then yesterday, she was told that her unborn child has an enlarged heart and that the arms and legs are short. The test for downs was negative. She will be 7 months this coming Sunday. Her doctor told her there was nothing they could do. Apparently a valve didn't grow that apparently disolve once the child is born. They told her the heart could just stop, or if she carries it to term then it could live maybe a day, a week, or longer. There would be all kinds of problems. She is 37 she had a test done and was told that everything was okay. Now this. What is wrong, isn't there anything anyone can do.
Posted Thu, 26 Apr 2012 in Child Health
Answered by Dr. Raju A.T 4 hours later
Hi Crystal,

Thanks for your query.

The fetal heart and other XXXXXXX organs will be checked for anomalies in around 16th to 22nd week by a ultrasound usually scheduled in the same time period called as an Anomaly Scan.This scan is a must in every booked case visiting the hospital after confirmation of pregnancy.The defects can be detected much before say in 14th week too.

Once if any clue is noticed into a anomalous heart it is confirmed by a Pulsed and color Doppler ultrasound which is more accurate and more informative .

If the defects in the heart are diagnosed as in above , I am sorry to say no interventions we could do to prevent the complications fore-said by her doctor.

Hope I have answered your query. If you have any follow up queries I will be available to answer them.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: What causes problem with the fetal heart functions with the heart valves? 14 hours later

I appreciate your answer, and I am clear when you say no interventions can be done to prevent complications. What I need to know is there any chance at all that the child will live. I know you can 't be 100% sure. But, is there a possibilty that if she comes to term or as close to it and have a c-section (to not add any stress to the child) could she live? My friend already has a child but she tried without sucess and now 11 years later she is surprised with this gift. I just need to know if she can have any possibilty of hope in this situation.

I appreciate any advice that you can give.

Answered by Dr. Raju A.T 10 hours later

Such heart anomalies pose 2 problems to us doctors
1. Defective heart circulation resulting in improper oxygenation leading to cyanosis
2. Congested heart (heart enlargement)

Doctors are left to tackle both the problems if successful delivery and future living is to be expected. Heart surgery is the best option to treat the heart defect and to solve this problem. The other structural defect though would remain still.

Medical science has not so advanced to the stage where we could operate on the growing fetus. Surgical correction can be attempted only after birth and if surgery has to be attempted, the congestive symptoms need to be well under control to obtain desirable results. Considering congestive features are seen since 7th month of gestation, the possibility of controlling congestion could be very low and cannot be assured untill birth.

Hence I am of the opinion that even if pregnancy continues till term and a live child is born, the chances that he/she may make up for a few weeks until congestion is brought under control are very remote.

I apologise if my answers were not polite, but I do not wish to create a false security.

Wish the couple's good luck and May God shine his mercy!!

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: What causes problem with the fetal heart functions with the heart valves? 35 hours later
Thank you doctor, I appreciate you giving what advice and knowledge that you. I will pass your wishes of good luck and God's mercy on to my friend and her family.

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