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Foetal stage ideal time for diagnosis of congenital heart diseases among kids: Experts

IANS Feb 22, 2024

The ideal stage for the diagnosis of congenital heart disease (CHD) among children is when they are in their foetal form, particularly within 16-20 weeks of pregnancy, said experts on 21 Feb.

CHD is a condition present from birth which stands as the most prevalent birth defect, affecting eight in every thousand infants who are born annually in India.

Only 10 per cent of those who get diagnosed with CHD receive the required treatment on time, according to doctors at Amrita Hospital, Faridabad.

"During the time between 16-20 weeks (about 4 and a half months) of pregnancy, advanced ultrasound imaging allows healthcare professionals to thoroughly examine the developing heart's structure and function and is able to detect malformation of the heart," said Dr S. Radhakrishnan, HoD, Paediatric Cardiology, Amrita Hospital.

"This period provides parents with the necessary information to make choices about their pregnancy and ensure timely medical intervention if required after the baby is born," he added.

Ventricular septal defect and atrial septal defect (commonly called "hole in the heart") are the most common forms of congenital heart disease, while Tetralogy of Fallot predominates among infants presenting with cyanosis (oxygen deficiency).

According to experts, regular prenatal check-ups with obstetricians equipped with advanced imaging technologies can help identify fetuses with suspected CHD.

With the help of the latest advancements, the experts said that CHD after birth can be diagnosed using 'Echocardiography' and sometimes may need advanced imaging techniques like CT scan, and MRI.

"CHD diagnosed after birth, the timing of treatment depends on the nature and gravity of the heart issues faced. The critical ones require attention and treatment at birth. Some of the less critical ones may be delayed for months or even a few years," Dr Sushil Azad, Principal Consultant of paediatric Cardiology, at Amrita Hospital, said.

Azad also mentioned that the treatment options vary from surgical to non-surgical therapy depending on the nature of the disease. Treatment options for children with CHD include medication management, catheter-based interventions, and open-heart surgical procedures.

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