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Delayed diagnosis in babies’ heart diseases can prove fatal

This was highlighted by experts on the 70th anniversary of the paediatrics department of King George’s Medical University (KGMU) on Saturday.

Dr Sitaram Radhakrisnan from Faridabad said 95 per cent of heart diseases in babies are not detected in infancy, and only 2-3 per cent of babies with heart diseases are treated. This is because many babies are born at home in India, and pulse oximetry screening, which can detect heart diseases, is not done often, especially in rural and semi-urban areas.

“Primary healthcare workers and caregivers are not aware of heart problems in babies. Many believe that a baby with heart disease will die or not be able to live a normal life, even if treated. This notion needs to be changed,” said Dr Sitaram.

Reiterating the need for awareness, Dr Nishant Verma said that every month, they witness 8-10 children with CHD, and 50 per cent of them arrive late.

“Because of late arrival, the heart remodels itself, making surgery difficult and resulting in a poor outcome,” he said, adding, parents and medical staff must observe symptoms like a blue tinge to the skin or lips (cyanosis), rapid breathing, rapid heartbeat, swelling in legs, tummy, and around eyes in babies during feeding.

“If such symptoms are present, doctors should be informed immediately so they can perform an echocardiogram and diagnose it,” he added.

Prof N L Sharma from PGIMER Chandigarh highlighted the need for developing a system by which research work can be smoothly implemented in clinical settings.

“We often derive solutions to problems through research, create policies based on them, and attempt to implement them in clinical settings. However, this approach often fails due to difficulties in vigilance and repetitive efforts. Instead, we should set goals to solve issues, conduct studies in groups,” he said.

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