Blue Baby Syndrome
Blue baby syndrome, also known as cyanosis, is when your baby’s skin has a bluish discoloration, especially when they cry. The discoloration is most obvious in your baby’s lips and hands.
Causes of Blue Baby Syndrome
In this type of heart defect, only one artery, instead of two, carries blood from the heart. This is a condition that some babies are born with. When a baby has truncus arteriosus, they are also missing a pulmonary valve (the valve that lies between the lower heart chambers).
Total anomalous pulmonary venous return
This is a rare heart defect where the blood vessels that drain the lungs are not connected to the heart. Instead, the vessels attach abnormally to other chambers of the heart.
Transposition of the great arteries
In this condition, the blood vessels that deliver blood, known as the aorta and the right ventricle, are reversed. This causes the body to pump blood in the opposite direction of the way blood is normally circulated.
Babies born with tricuspid atresia are born without a tricuspid valve (one of the heart valves that opens and closes to let blood in one direction through the heart). This condition is a part of a group of associated defects that require medical attention.
Babies born with this condition have a pulmonary valve (one of the heart valves that opens and closes to let blood in one direction through the heart) that doesn’t work correctly. This means that blood can’t flow from the heart to the lungs to carry oxygen through the body.
Atrioventricular canal defect
The heart is normally divided so that blood from the lungs doesn’t mix with blood from the body. When babies are born with this defect, blood moves freely among all areas of the heart, resulting in many health problems in the heart and lungs.
This condition causes abnormally high blood pressure (hypertension). This happens when the arteries in the lungs are too narrow for blood to flow through or there are not enough blood vessels.
Hypoplastic left heart syndrome
In this condition, a baby is born with a defect that leaves the left side of their heart underdeveloped. This is a congenital heart defect (meaning that a person is born with it) that begins during pregnancy and has no known cause.
Symptoms of Blue Baby Syndrome
When babies are doing well, they are putting on weight and feeding well.
Babies who are not gaining weight, not eating, or are short of breath while eating may be failing to thrive.
Babies who fail to thrive typically have a heart condition or a medical problem like blue baby syndrome that causes their hearts to pump a lot harder than they should.
If your baby seems to be failing to thrive, you should contact your doctor right away.
Diagnosis of Blue Baby Syndrome
Your doctor will likely start by collecting more information, examining your baby, and completing a test called an oxygen saturation measurement.
The test is completely painless.
It involves attaching a lighted probe to one of your baby’s fingers or toes for a few minutes to collect measurements.
This will help the doctor see if your baby’s oxygen level is normal or low.
Depending on the results of the test, the doctor may decide that your baby needs to see a heart specialist (pediatric cardiologist) or a lung specialist (pediatric pulmonologist) who treats children.
In some cases, they may send you straight to the emergency room.
Treatment of Blue Baby Syndrome
There is no specific treatment for blue baby syndrome.
Instead, treatment involves treating the heart condition that is causing the blue baby syndrome to happen.
Once the heart condition is treated, your baby’s skin will return to its normal color.