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Learning About Mild Pulmonary Valve Stenosis in Newborns

Heart with narrow pulmonary valve and change in blood flow

What is pulmonary valve stenosis?

Pulmonary valve stenosis is a type of congenital heart disease. Congenital heart disease refers to heart problems a baby is born with. These heart problems are usually diagnosed at or before birth.

"Pulmonary" means "of the lungs." The pulmonary artery takes the blood from the heart to the lungs to pick up new oxygen. The pulmonary valve is the gate through which the heart pumps blood into the pulmonary artery.

"Stenosis" means "narrowed." In pulmonary valve stenosis, that gate is too narrow. The heart has to work harder to push blood through it. It also means less blood gets to the lungs. In more severe cases, this can mean that the blood going out to the body doesn't have enough oxygen.

A baby with pulmonary valve stenosis may also have other heart problems.

It can be scary to learn that there is something wrong with your baby's heart. The hospital staff understands this. They will explain what happens and will answer your questions.

How is pulmonary valve stenosis diagnosed?

Your doctor may hear abnormal heart sounds, such as a heart murmur, when examining your newborn.

Your doctor will order tests to find the cause of abnormal heart sounds or of symptoms. The most common test is an echocardiogram, or "echo" for short. It uses sound waves to make an image of your baby's heart.

Your baby may have other tests to find the problem, such as an EKG (electrocardiogram) or a chest X-ray. Another test may look at the amount of oxygen in the blood.

A fetal ultrasound, which looks at the baby's heart, may find this problem before birth.

What are the symptoms?

Many cases are mild and cause no symptoms. In more severe cases, the baby may have a blue tint to the skin. The baby may also breathe faster and tire easily with physical exertion and during feeding. This is because not enough oxygen is getting to the baby's body.

How is it treated?

Many mild cases do not need treatment. But stenosis may get worse. So your child will need regular checkups.

In more serious cases, treatment may include a procedure to stretch the valve so that it is more open. Sometimes surgery is done to repair or replace the valve.

Your doctor will explain what symptoms to watch for at home. Regular checkups will help your doctor watch your baby for symptoms over time.

What can you expect?

  • 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.
  • Many babies won't have any symptoms. They will only need regular checkups.
  • Your doctor will make sure that you have all the information you need to take care of your baby at home.

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 advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) 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?

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