Learning About Aortic Valve Stenosis in Newborns

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What is aortic valve stenosis?

Image of fetal heart circulation

Aortic valve stenosis is a heart problem. The aortic valve is not as wide as it should be or is not opening normally. This valve is between the lower left chamber of the heart and the aorta. The aorta supplies blood to the body. A narrowed aortic valve forces the heart to pump harder to get enough blood through the valve.

This is a congenital heart defect. This means your baby was born with it. While your baby's organ's were still developing, the aortic valve did not form correctly.

How serious the problem is depends on how narrow the valve is. If your baby has severe or critical stenosis, he or she may need special care, such as being in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). This may be scary for you. But the hospital staff understands this. They will explain what happens and will answer your questions.

How it is treated?

Your baby will get medicine. It may include medicines given through a blood vessel. This is often done through the belly button.

Your baby will need either a procedure to widen the valve or surgery to replace the valve. The treatment choice will depend on how severe the problem is.

What can you expect?

  • You may see tubes and wires attached to your baby. This can be scary to see. But these things help the doctor treat your baby. The tubes supply air, fluid, and medicines to your baby. The wires are attached to machines that help the doctor keep track of your baby's vital signs. These include temperature, blood pressure, breathing rate, and pulse rate.
  • It may seem that your baby is getting lots of tests. All of these tests help your doctor keep track of your baby's condition and give the best treatment possible.
  • If your baby has trouble breathing, the doctor may use a ventilator. This machine helps your baby breathe. To do this, the doctor puts a soft tube through your baby's mouth into the windpipe.
  • The hospital staff will give your baby the nutrition he or she needs. The doctor may feed your baby through a soft tube that goes through the nose and into the stomach. Or the doctor may use an IV that goes through the belly button to do this.
  • After surgery, your baby will need routine checkups to check his or her heart. He or she may need more surgeries or procedures in the future.
  • It's hard to be apart from your baby, especially when you worry about his or her condition. Know that the hospital staff is well prepared to care for babies with this condition. They will do everything they can to help. If you need it, get support from friends and family. Ask the hospital staff about counselling and support.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed

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