According to the NHLBI, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Heart Association, many congenital heart defects have no signs or symptoms and may be hard to detect. The child’s doctor may hear a murmur (extra or unusual sounds during a heartbeat), but not in all cases. (Note: most murmurs in infants are not a sign of a heart defect.) Many severe congenital heart defects will create signs or symptoms, often soon after birth. They can include:
- Rapid breathing
- Cyanosis (bluish coloring of the tongue, lips, skin and/or fingernail beds)
- Fatigue (note that most babies sleep a lot, but more than “normal” fatigue or tiredness may indicate a heart defect or other medical issue)
- Poor feeding
- Poor weight gain
If your child has some or all of these symptoms, he or she may have a congenital heart defect. Ask your pediatrician if you have concerns, particularly if you have a family history of congenital heart defects.