SymptomsBy Mayo Clinic Staff
Serious congenital heart defects usually become evident soon after birth or during the first few months of life. Signs and symptoms could include:
- Pale gray or blue skin color (cyanosis)
- Rapid breathing
- Flared nostrils
- Grunting when 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 may not be diagnosed until later in childhood, because your child may not have any noticeable signs of a problem. 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
- 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.
Feb. 04, 2016
- Congenital heart defects. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/chd/. Accessed Jan. 24, 2014.
- Bonow RO, et al. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Jan. 24, 2014.
- Overview of congenital cardiovascular anomalies. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/pediatrics/congenital_cardiovascular_anomalies/overview_of_congenital_cardiovascular_anomalies.html?qt=Overview%20of%20Congenital%20Cardiovascular%20Anomalies&alt=sh. Accessed Dec. 22, 2013.
- Yuan S, et al. Congenital heart disease: Emerging themes linking genetics and development. Current Opinion in Genetics & Development. 2013;23:352.
- About congenital heart defects. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/CongenitalHeartDefects/AboutCongenitalHeartDefects/About-Congenital-Heart-Defects_UCM_001217_Article.jsp. Accessed Jan. 24, 2014.
- Facts about hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/heartdefects/hlhs.html. Accessed Feb. 1, 2014.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed Feb. 1, 2014.
- Congenital heart defects. March of Dimes. http://www.marchofdimes.com/baby/congenital-heart-defects.aspx. Accessed Jan. 24, 2014.
- Congenital heart defects surgery. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/CongenitalHeartDefects/CareTreatmentforCongenitalHeartDefects/Congenital-Heart-Defects-Surgery_UCM_307729_Article.jsp. Accessed Jan. 24, 2014.
- Hochberg L, et al. Folic acid for prevention of neural tube defects. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb. 1, 2014.