Protect your child’s heart

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Did you know that there is an incidence of 1,80,00 cases of heart diseases among children in India yearly and that 50% of them require intervention or surgery during their first year of birth? Healthwire interviewed Dr Manisha Chakrabarti, a renowned paediatric cardiologist practicing in Apollo hospital, regarding congenital heart diseases (CHDs). Dr Chakrabarti informed us that the prevalence of CHDs is likely to be enormous due to high birth rates. According to a status report on CHDs in India, 10% of the present infant mortality may be accounted for by CHDs.

Dr Chakrabarti explained how early detection and treatment can cure CHD’s. She said that it’s imperative that a woman

abstains from smoking and drinking during her pregnancy, and takes more precautions, especially during the first trimester. She said that infants of mothers who suffer from diabetes, thyroid or connective tissue diseases such as joint pains are more at a risk of having a heart disease. She suggests opting for a foetal echo, which can be helpful in identifying any minor or serious heart defects in the unborn child. If a more serious problem is present, it is better to find out early, as most defects can be treated before birth. Dr Chakrabarti points out that awareness among parents about the signs and symptoms of CHD’s is important. Some of the symptoms of CHD’s in infants are; child getting tired easily during feeds or not taking enough feeds, respiratory distress and not gaining weight.

One of Dr Chakrabarti’s patient, a 3-year-old entered the room as the Healthwire team was about to take an exit from Dr Chakrabarti’s cabin. The infant, earlier diagnosed with blue baby syndrome, underwent two surgeries and was now there for a follow up procedure. The baby’s father, a rickshaw puller from Bihar, noticed that the baby showed signs such as a bluish tint to the skin, fingernails and lips, cough and fever, excessive crying, feeding problems and poor weight gain which made him take the baby to a hospital. With the help of various dedicated organisations, he was able to get a free treatment for his child through BPL quota at Apollo Hospitals, Delhi. The baby showed no more symptoms of the disease and is finally cured. Dr Chakrabarti said that the myth about blue babies that they’re cursed or doomed is fallacious. She also pointed out that if timely action is taken, 99% of infants with blue baby syndrome may be completely cured.

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