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When to Worry: Heart Murmur

A heart murmur in your infant could be nothing serious, or it could require a trip to the cardiologist. Learn more about what a heart murmur is and possible treatment for your little one.

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When your pediatrician listens to your baby's tiny chest, and then tells you she has a heart murmur, it's easy to fear the worst. But often times, the murmur is nothing to worry about and it's what we, pediatricians, call innocent. A heart murmur is basically a whooshing sound you can hear between heart beats. Instead of a lub dub, we hear a lub-shh-dub. If your baby has been diagnosed with a murmur, remember these 3 points. It doesn't necessarily mean that anything is wrong with your baby's heart. About 80 percent of children have a heart murmur at some time during their childhood. If your pediatrician says your baby's murmur is harmless, you don't need to restrict her activity or take her to a specialist. It will probably go away by the time she is a teenager. Your pediatrician may refer you to a pediatric cardiologist. This is especially likely if your baby is under 6 months old. The cardiologist will give your child an electrocardiogram and probably an echocardiogram, or ultrasound of the heart. He will look for congenital heart defects such as a narrowed valve, reversed blood vessels, or a hole between the chambers of her heart. Most heart defects are not life-threatening. Even the most common structural problems, like a hole in the heart, go away on their own. If not, they can often be easily fixed. And some conditions are treated with medication and close follow-up.