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Are Heart Murmurs in Children a Cause for Concern?

August 24, 2011

It is natural that you will be concerned when your pediatrician tells you that your child has a heart murmur. However, there is no reason to panic until you have found out the true causes and effects of the condition. Heart murmurs are actually very common, and they occur in most children at some point or another. Physicians do not consider a heart murmur a heart disease or disorder; it is simply a description of the way that the heart is operating.

A heart murmur isn't considered a heart diseaseA heart murmur refers to a swishing sound that occurs between heart beats, and it can only be detected with a stethoscope. It is actually the sound of the opening and closing of heart valves. When your pediatrician detects a heart murmur in your child, he or she will give it an audibility rating of 1 to 6. Then, he or she will determine where it occurs in the heart, what kind of sound it makes, at which point of the heart cycle it occurs, and whether there is a change in the sound when your child moves. In the event that a more thorough evaluation is needed, you may have to bring your child to a pediatric cardiologist.

Most heart murmurs are innocent murmurs, and they do not need medical treatment or special diet. They will naturally go away as a child grows. However, heart murmurs can also be indications that a child is suffering from common or congenital heart defects. Congenital heart defects can come in the forms of structural and septal defects, and they may be naturally repaired over time or require surgery. Congenital heart defects may be inherited or caused by premature birth, mother’s illnesses or consumption of alcohol during pregnancy, and certain environmental factors. Similar to common heart defects, they can be negligible or life-threatening.