Pulmonary atresia

Pulmonary atresia (uh-TREE-zhuh) is a heart defect present at birth (congenital) that's normally diagnosed within the first few hours or days of life. In pulmonary atresia, the valve that lets blood out of the heart to go to your baby's lungs (pulmonary valve) doesn't form correctly. Instead of opening and closing to allow blood to travel from your heart to your lungs, a solid sheet of tissue forms. Blood from the right side of your baby's heart can't go back to the lungs to pick up oxygen.

Pulmonary atresia is a life-threatening situation. Procedures to correct your baby's heart condition and medications to help your baby's heart work more effectively are the first steps to treat pulmonary atresia. Depending on your child's condition, more surgeries will often be necessary in childhood. Ongoing medical care through adulthood can improve your child's prognosis.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications Prevention

If your baby is born with pulmonary atresia, symptoms will be noticeable soon after birth. Pulmonary atresia symptoms may show up within hours to several days. Your baby's signs and symptoms may include:

  • Blue- or gray-toned skin (cyanosis)
  • Fast breathing or shortness of breath
  • Easily tiring or being fatigued
  • Feeding problems, such as tiring or sweating while eating
  • Pale, clammy skin that may feel cool to the touch

When to see a doctor

Your baby will most likely be diagnosed with pulmonary atresia within the first few hours to the first few days of life. However, if your baby has any symptoms of pulmonary atresia after you've returned home, seek emergency medical attention. Symptoms like cyanosis in babies should be examined by a doctor as soon as possible.

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