Serious congenital heart defects usually become evident during the first few hours, days, weeks and months of life. Signs and symptoms could include:

  • Loss of healthy skin color
  • Pale gray or blue skin color (cyanosis)
  • Rapid breathing
  • Swelling in the legs, abdomen or areas around the eyes
  • Shortness of breath during feedings, leading to poor weight gain

Less serious congenital heart defects are often not diagnosed until later in childhood. Your child may not have any noticeable signs or symptoms. If signs and symptoms are evident in older children, they may include:

  • Easily becoming short of breath during exercise or activity
  • Easily tiring during exercise or activity
  • Built-up fluid in the heart or lungs
  • Swelling in the hands, ankles or feet

When to see a doctor

Serious congenital heart defects are often diagnosed before or soon after your child is born. If you notice that your baby has any of the signs or symptoms above, call your child's doctor.

If your child has any of the signs or symptoms of less serious heart defects as he or she grows, call your child's doctor. Your child's doctor can let you know if your child's symptoms are due to a heart defect or another medical condition.

Oct. 02, 2012