My 11-week-old was said to have a flow murmur. Should I be concerned?
When parents hear that their child has a murmur, they are often quite concerned. Some murmurs do signal serious problems in the heart. Others, however, are no problem at all. When people hear the "lub-dub" that they think is the heart beating, they are really listening to the sounds of the valves in the heart closing. The heartbeat itself -- the contraction of the heart muscle to pump out the blood -- is silent. Most of the time, blood flowing through the heart is also silent. When the turbulence of blood flowing through the heart can be heard, the person is said to have a murmur (like the murmuring of a babbling brook).
Some murmurs indicate an abnormality in the structure of the valves or walls of the heart, or of the major blood vessels. A flow murmur, however, arises from normal hearts, and represents no problem whatsoever. At least 80 percent of kids have an innocent murmur at some time during childhood. I believe that all kids probably do and that we just don't happen to listen at the right moment in some of them.
Parents often ask me if a flow murmur will go away. I usually reply that since it is a normal noise, arising from a normal heart, it doesn't really matter if it disappears or not. In point of fact, though, functional murmurs often do go away. This too shall pass.
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