Congenital Heart Defects: Medical History and Physical Exam
Questions include the following:
- What symptoms does your baby have?
- When are symptoms usually present? Symptoms may be present only when your baby is eating or crying.
- Has your baby been less active than usual?
- How is your baby's appetite? How much does your baby usually eat and drink? Describe a typical feeding. Does he or she have trouble feeding or tire easily while feeding?
- Has your baby been urinating less often than usual?
- Does your baby's color change when he or she is crying? If so, does the color quickly return to normal after crying stops?
- What position does he or she seem most comfortable in when resting?
- Has your baby ever passed out? If the child is older: Has your child ever complained of his or her heart beating in a strange way?
- Did you have or were you exposed to rubella (German measles) or any other infections during your pregnancy?
- Did you take any medicines, use illegal drugs, or drink alcohol during your pregnancy?
- Do you have a family history of congenital heart defects?
The doctor will:
- Check your child's weight and length.
- Check your child's heart rate and blood pressure.
- Listen to your child's heart and lungs with a stethoscope to detect whether a heart murmur is present. A heart murmur can be normal in children but should be checked by a doctor.
- Check your child's heart rate (pulses) on the neck, wrist, legs, and feet.
- Check your child's nail beds, lips, and skin for a bluish tint (cyanosis) and/or clubbing. Your doctor may also check the amount of oxygen in your child's blood with an oximeter.
- Look at the skin over the blood vessels in the neck to see whether the vessels bulge. This may happen if the heart is weak (heart failure).
- Look at and feel your child's belly to check for an enlarged liver. The liver may be enlarged in children who have heart failure.
Last Revised: October 11, 2011
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