Even with treatment, you'll need to carefully monitor your child's health for any changes that could signal a problem. As your child grows, his or her heart changes size and shape, which can make more treatments necessary.

Complications of pulmonary atresia can include:

  • Developmental delays. Children with congenital heart defects often develop and grow more slowly than do children who don't have heart defects. Your child may be smaller than other children of the same age and, if the nervous system has been affected, may learn to walk and talk later than other children.
  • Heart infections (endocarditis). People with structural heart problems, such as pulmonary atresia, are at a higher risk of infectious endocarditis than is the general population. Infectious endocarditis is an inflammation of the inner lining of the heart caused by a bacterial infection.
  • Stroke. Although uncommon, children with pulmonary atresia and a ventricular septal defect are at increased risk of stroke due the possibility of a blood clot traveling through the heart to the brain.
  • Heart failure. This serious complication, which makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood to the body, usually develops in the first six months after birth in babies who have a significant heart defect. Signs of congestive heart failure include rapid breathing, often with gasping breaths, and poor weight gain.
Jan. 24, 2013