Routine examination of apparently healthy newborn babies detects less than half of those with congenital cardiac malformations because they are asymptomatic and without signs. More severe cardiac malformations are not detected more easily. A normal clinical examination does not exclude serious congenital cardiac malformation. Left heart obstruction is easily overlooked but often causes serious deterioration in less than 3 weeks. It is important to arrange early echocardiography of babies with signs and to consider cardiac malformation in a sick baby even if a previous routine examination was normal. All babies with Down syndrome should have early expert cardiological assessment.
Copyright 2001 Harcourt Publishers Ltd.