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Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome in Children


Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome

is a condition that causes tachycardia (fast heartbeat). A normal heartbeat in babies is 100 to 150 beats per minute, and 55 to 110 in older children. WPW may cause 150 to 300 heartbeats per minute. WPW develops because an extra piece of heart muscle causes more electrical activity within your child's heart. WPW can develop for no known reason. Congenital heart disease or a family history of WPW can increase his risk.

Common signs and symptoms:

Your child may have no signs or symptoms, or he may have the following:

  • Fast, irregular, or pounding heartbeats
  • Chest pain or trouble breathing
  • Heavy sweating
  • Dizziness or fainting, or not being able to do his activities
  • Pale skin, behavior changes, or a fever (babies)
  • Trouble staying alert, irritability, or a lack of appetite (babies)

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your older child has chest pain or feels dizzy or faint.
  • Your child has fast or abnormal heartbeats even after treatment.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

Treatment of WPW syndrome

may include medicine to slow or regulate your child's heartbeat. Your child may also need radiofrequency (RF) ablation or cardioversion. RF ablation is a procedure used to send energy to the area of your child's heart that has an electrical problem. Cardioversion is a procedure used to give your child's heart an electrical shock.

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Vagal maneuvers:

Vagal maneuvers are methods that can slow your child's heartbeat during a WPW episode. Your healthcare provider may recommend your child coughs, holds his breath, or puts an ice pack on his face.

Ask about exercise:

Exercise can cause episodes of irregular heartbeats. Ask your healthcare provider how much exercise your child needs each day and which exercises are safe for him. Ask if he can play sports.

Limit your child's caffeine as directed:

Caffeine can trigger episodes of irregular heartbeats. Your child's healthcare provider may tell you not to allow your child to have caffeine.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome in Children (Ambulatory Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.