Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New guidelines aim to improve care for babies with heart problems in the womb

Date:
April 24, 2014
Source:
American Heart Association
Summary:
Heart experts have developed the first scientific statement on detecting, managing and treating heart abnormalities in the womb. Medicines, fetal procedures, careful monitoring and strategies for delivery room care are improving the health of babies with heart abnormalities from before birth and beyond. Providers should help families overcome anxiety and depression, so they can transition from grief to acceptance and become active members of the team that cares for their baby.

Fetal heart experts working with the American Heart Association have developed guidelines to help healthcare providers care for unborn babies with heart problems, as well as their families.

Related Articles


The statement, Diagnosis and Treatment of Fetal Cardiac Disease, is published in the American Heart Association journal, Circulation.

"Congenital heart disease is the most common birth defect that can result in either death or significant health problems in newborn babies," said Mary T. Donofrio, M.D., lead writer of the statement, and director of the Fetal Heart Program and Critical Care Delivery Service at Children's National Medical Center, in Washington, D.C.

Fetal care is no longer solely the realm of high-risk obstetricians and neonatologists. A multidisciplinary specialty of fetal cardiology has emerged, according to the statement.

"We now have advanced imaging technologies, such as high-resolution ultrasound and three- and four-dimensional echocardiography, magnetic resonance imaging, fetal electrocardiography and magnetocardiography enabling physicians to diagnose fetal abnormalities early and with better detail and accuracy.

"Despite this, more than half of babies with congenital heart disease go undiagnosed before birth," she said. "We created these guidelines to provide pediatric cardiologists, obstetricians, maternal fetal specialists, radiologists, nurses and other healthcare providers with the latest developments in the rapidly developing area of fetal cardiology," Donofrio said.

Among the recommendations in the statement:

  • Pregnant women with specific risk factors should be referred for fetal echocardiography, a technology that uses sound waves to examine the fetal heart. Women at risk include those who have had diabetes before pregnancy, diabetes diagnosed in the first trimester, have taken NSAIDs in their third trimester, have congenital heart disease or a close relative with congenital heart disease, or other specific maternal medical conditions, and possibly those who conceived with in vitro fertilization. Fetuses at risk include those identified with a chromosome problem or other abnormality, or those with a suspected heart problem. Fetuses diagnosed with a heart abnormality should be carefully monitored and healthcare providers should plan the delivery and post-delivery care that the baby will need.
  • Some fetal heart rhythm disturbances or heart function abnormalities can be treated with medicines given to the mother, which cross the placenta to reach the fetus. In-utero heart catheterization and surgical procedures are being performed, however are still considered experimental.

The psychological effects and depression that may result when a pregnant woman and her family learns that their child has a congenital heart abnormality are also important factors for healthcare providers to consider. Parents often grieve upon learning that their unborn baby has a congenital heart condition. The authors note that it's important for providers to offer families information in an unbiased way, which not only addresses the condition and what's involved in treatment, but also whether children will be able to play sports, do well in school, and what kind of support they might need, physically and mentally. In addition, providers should help families overcome anxiety and depression, so they can transition from grief to acceptance and become active members of the team that care for their baby.

"This document transcends specialties and gives all healthcare providers that practice fetal cardiac medicine a standard for practice. This means improved care for babies with congenital heart disease, starting in the womb and continuing after delivery and through their lives," said Donofrio.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Heart Association. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Mary T. Donofrio et al. Diagnosis and Treatment of Fetal Cardiac Disease: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association. Circulation, April 2014 DOI: 10.1161/01.cir.0000437597.44550.5d

Cite This Page:

American Heart Association. "New guidelines aim to improve care for babies with heart problems in the womb." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140424161554.htm>.
American Heart Association. (2014, April 24). New guidelines aim to improve care for babies with heart problems in the womb. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140424161554.htm
American Heart Association. "New guidelines aim to improve care for babies with heart problems in the womb." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140424161554.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

AFP (Nov. 27, 2014) — The Ebola epidemic sweeping Sierra Leone is having a profound effect on the country's children, many of whom have been left without any family members to support them. Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Experimental Ebola Vaccine Shows Promise In Human Trial

Experimental Ebola Vaccine Shows Promise In Human Trial

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) — A recent test of a prototype Ebola vaccine generated an immune response to the disease in subjects. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) — Advances in prosthetics are making replacement body parts stronger and more lifelike than they’ve ever been. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins