Congenital heart defects arise from problems early in the heart's development — but there's often no clear cause. Genetics and environmental factors might play a role.
Before birth, a vascular connection (ductus arteriosus) between two major blood vessels leading from the heart — the aorta and pulmonary artery — is necessary for your baby's blood circulation. The ductus arteriosus diverts blood from your baby's lungs while they develop and the baby receives oxygen from the mother's circulation.
After birth, the ductus arteriosus normally closes within two or three days. In premature infants, the connection often takes longer to close. If the connection remains open, it's referred to as a patent ductus arteriosus.
The abnormal opening causes too much blood to circulate to the baby's lungs and heart. Untreated, the blood pressure in the baby's lungs might increase (pulmonary hypertension) and the baby's heart might enlarge and weaken.
Dec. 16, 2014
- What is patent ductus arteriosus? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/pda/. Accessed Oct. 20, 2014.
- Patent ductus arteriosus. The Merck Manual Professional Edition. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/pediatrics/congenital_cardiovascular_anomalies/patent_ductus_arteriosus_pda.html?qt=patent%20ductus%20arteriosus&alt=sh. Accessed Oct. 20, 2014.
- Doyle T, et al. Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of patent ductus arteriosus. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 20, 2014.
- Doyle T, et al. Management of patent ductus arteriosus. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 20, 2014.
- Planning for pregnancy. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/preconception/planning.html. Accessed Oct. 22, 2014.
- Riggin EA. Decision Support System. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. July 10, 2014.
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