Ventricular Septal Defect

What is it?

  • About 40,000 babies are born in the United States each year with a heart that is not normal. Nearly 9,000 of these babies have a heart defect called a ventricular (ven-trik-u-ler) septal (sep-tull) defect. This is also called a VSD, and is one of the most common heart defects.

  • The heart is made up of four chambers or rooms. A VSD is a hole between the lower right and lower left chambers. This hole may be small or large. Because of this hole your child's heart must work harder to pump more blood.

Causes:

It is not known what causes a VSD. A family history of VSD may cause your child to have this problem. VSD may be caused by the mother taking certain medications early in her pregnancy. Or a pregnant woman may have had an infection while her baby's heart was forming. The heart forms during the first trimester of pregnancy. Children with Down's syndrome may be more likely to have a VSD than other children.

Signs and Symptoms:

The signs and symptoms may be different for each child. Some children have no symptoms because their VSD is small. Other children may grow slowly and have problems gaining weight. Your child may have little energy, get frequent infections, and have breathing problems.

Care:

Your child may need to be put in the hospital for tests and treatment. Heart surgery may need to be done. When your child has surgery is based on your child's age, weight, health, and the heart problem. Sometimes surgery may not be needed if your child's VSD is not serious. It is possible for the hole to close on its own. Children with a large VSD may need surgery soon after birth.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers. Work with them to decide what care may be used to treat your child.

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