Learning About Patent Ductus Arteriosus in Newborns

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What is patent ductus arteriosus (PDA)?

Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) is a congenital heart problem. This means your baby was born with it.

Before birth, babies have a blood vessel near the heart called the ductus arteriosus. This blood vessel normally closes in the first two weeks after a baby is born. But sometimes this blood vessel doesn't close. ("Patent" means open.) This may make the baby's heart work harder.

Babies with PDA often have symptoms such as poor feeding or shortness of breath. But some babies don't have symptoms.

Your baby may need special care, such as being in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). This may be scary for you. The hospital staff understands this. They will explain what happens and will answer your questions.

How is it treated?

Sometimes the blood vessel closes on its own, so no treatment is needed. This may take from a few days to several months.

Treatment is generally not needed if your baby has no symptoms. But babies who are born early (premature) may need treatment even if they have no symptoms.

There are different ways to treat PDA. The doctor might give your baby a medicine to close the blood vessel. Or the doctor might use surgery or a thin tube called a catheter to close it.

What can you expect?

  • You may see tubes and wires attached to your baby. This can look scary. But these things help the staff take care of your baby. The tubes may supply oxygen, fluid, or medicine to your baby. The wires are attached to machines that keep track of your baby's pulse rate and other vital signs.
  • It may seem that your baby is getting lots of tests. All of these tests help the doctor keep track of your baby's condition and give the best treatment possible.
  • 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 PDA. They will do everything they can to help. If you need it, ask for support from friends and family. You can also 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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Current as of: July 26, 2016