How can parents prevent and treat these conditions to give their children a healthy and happy adult life?
Congenital heart diseases are problems in the structure and functioning of the heart due to the abnormal development of the heart before birth. It is the most common congenital anomaly, and its presentation and treatment will depend on the type of malformation that is since there are several types.
The majority of congenital heart diseases are presented as an isolated defect without association with other diseases. They can also be part of various genetic and chromosomal syndromes, such as Down syndrome. And although congenital heart disease is present at birth, it may not be visible immediately or cause problems for years.
Although for most congenital disabilities a known cause cannot be identified, it is known that the consumption of alcohol and some chemical substances during pregnancy, and certain infections such as rubella, can contribute to its development. It is also important to control the level of blood sugar especially in pregnant women with diabetes and perform periodic ultrasounds to detect any problems.
Early prevention, the key
The first preventive measure is fetal cardiac ultrasound when the child is still in the uterus. However, the condition can be detected only years later, when the child is in early childhood, so periodic checks are essential. Besides, there are two other forms of diagnosis: puncture and nuchal translucency. Any of these types of studies must be done after week 20.
With early detection and adequate treatment, the child can be provided with quality and normal life expectancy, something that for years was unthinkable due to the lack of information and technology.
In general terms, the treatments will depend on the type of heart disease that is suffered. The milder ones disappear alone over the years, other more serious require medication and in the most complex one or several surgical procedures will be required.
If the results of level 1 ultrasound are abnormal, doctors usually use diagnostic tests to determine if the baby has congenital disabilities or other possible problems. These tests are also offered to women with high-risk pregnancies, such as women aged 35 or older, women who have had their previous pregnancy affected by birth defects, women with chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, lupus, diabetes or epilepsy, and women who use certain medications.
The ultrasound creates images of the baby. This ultrasound, also called second-level ultrasound, is used to look more closely at possible birth defects or other problems that have been indicated in the results of previous screening tests. It is usually done between weeks 18 and 22 of pregnancy.
Chorionic villus sampling (CVS)
In the chorionic villus test (CVS), the doctors of Ultrasound Clinic removes a small sample of the placental tissue, called chorionic villus, to analyze and determine if the baby has chromosomal or genetic alterations. In general, CVS is offered to women who have received an abnormal result on a first-trimester screening test or who may be at higher risk. This test is done between weeks 10 and 12 of pregnancy, before amniocentesis.
Amniocentesis is an examination in which the doctor removes a small amount of amniotic fluid from the area surrounding the baby. The fluid is tested to understand the baby's protein levels, which can indicate certain birth defects. Amniotic fluid cells can be analyzed for chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down syndrome, and genetic problems, such as cystic fibrosis.