When you have a baby, it’s the best moment of your life and you definitely don’t want to hear problems from your baby doctor with respect to your baby.

Unfortunately, there are times when things don’t go as expected and your doctor says you what scares you the most, “There is an abnormal extra sound we hear while listening to your baby’s heart called a murmur” and your universe starts crashing. 

You think of all possible things and start feeling scared, upset and definitely angry as to why these problems were not picked up when you had an anomaly scan during the pregnancy. Your anger is genuine, but the answer to it is that, unfortunately, scans don’t pick up very small heart defects which will be again screened for during the first 48-72 hours of your baby’s birth, during when the baby has a detailed head to toe checkup.

What does heart murmur imply to your baby? 

Heart murmurs are of two types: 

1. Innocent murmurs- which occur due to flow/ turbulence of the blood into the baby’s heart chamber and not because there is a problem. This is an absolutely harmless condition, and the murmur disappears with time and even if it stays do not cause any problems to the baby.

2. Pathological murmurs- are due to the defect in the structure of the heart, either in the form of a hole between heart chambers or due narrow outlet of the blood vessels flowing from the lower chambers of the heart.

Again we have two kinds here, one where there is mixing of blood- blue (non-oxygenated blood)and pink (oxygenated blood)and they are called as blue babies( due to low oxygen in the body) in layman's term and the other type where the baby looks pink!

Thus, by giving a brief explanation of what a heart murmur, what is advised to you as a parent is not to stress out, or panic and do the needful as advised by your paediatrician.

What will be done?

1. Your baby’s oxygen will be checked with a pulse oximeter, ECG, chest X-ray and a jelly scan of the heart done (similar to the scans you had during your pregnancy).

2. Based on the diagnosis, you will be reassured if it’s an innocent murmur or referred to a pediatric cardiologist or specialist paediatrician for a follow-up, or a tertiary hospital with a facility for cardiac surgery under pediatric cardiac surgeon, in case of dire emergency. Most of the times, babies who look pink, but have a structural problem will be observed and will undergo elective surgical procedure based on the cause.

What to watch for?

You need to watch for your baby’s behaviour with respect to his feeding, sleeping, breathing difficulty and bluish discolouration around lips and failure to gain weight which are the few danger signs of cardiac-decompensation needing urgent referral to a specialist.

Thanks For Reading!