Blue baby syndrome: Know how your baby’s skin can indicate a heart problem

Tricuspid atresia or blue baby syndrome is quite rare in babies. Read on to find out more about this heart problem.
Baby's feet on a heart-shaped pillow
What is blue baby syndrome? Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Natalia Ningthoujam Published: 10 Jan 2023, 20:00 pm IST
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It’s always a joy to hold your newborn in your hands. There are smiles and a bit of tears on everyone’s faces. Once you see your healthy baby with pinkish skin tone wailing, you know that everything is going to be alright. But there are times when babies are a little blue. They might have slight bluish skin tone blue lips. An expert says that it could be Blue baby syndrome or tricuspid atresia, which is seen in almost one out of 10,000 deliveries of babies. Know all about this rare heart problem that can be a reason for your baby turning a bit blue.

As a new mom, you need to know a lot, including list of vaccination for your kids. But what happens when you see your newborn getting a bluish tone instead of pinkish one?

Tricuspid atresia
Tricuspid atresia is a rare heart problem. Image Courtesy: Adobe Stock

Infant methemoglobinemia also leads to a baby turning blue. According to Wisconsin Department of Health Services, this happens when there is not enough oxygen in the baby’s blood. But a baby can also turn blue if the little one is diagnosed with a congenital heart defect called tricuspid atresia.

Memorising newborn baby care tips by heart is a good thing, but it is also essential to know about a rare heart problem that babies can be born with. To know more about tricuspid atresia, Health Shots consulted Dr Neeraj Awasthy, Director, Paediatric Cardiology, Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, New Delhi.

What is tricuspid atresia or blue baby syndrome?

Communication between the two right sides of the heart is very important. If that is absent then your baby has tricuspid atresia. Explaining further, Dr Awasthy says that normally, we have four parts in our heart. If tricuspid valve is not there in between the two parts on the right side of our heart and there is a solid tissue that acts as a barrier in the communication, the condition is called tricuspid atresia.

Common symptoms of tricuspid atresia

Babies with tricuspid atresia may have bluish discolouration because of the narrowing of the main artery to the lungs.

Tricuspid atresia
Tricuspid atresia can be treated through surgeries. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Other common signs of tricuspid atresia right after birth

• Feeding difficulty
• Excessive sweating
• Baby gets tired easily
• Baby Finds it difficult to breathe

Dr Awasthy says the problem can be easily detected when the baby has all these symptoms. All these cases fall under univentricular heart, where effectively there is only one chamber of the heart.

Tricuspid atresia treatment

The treatment for tricuspid atresia is univentricular pathway. For this, your baby will have to go through three-stage surgeries. In the first stage, there will either be a need for a Blalock-Taussig (BT) shunt or Pulmonary artery banding where the blood flow to the lungs would be made appropriate. The expert says that in the second stage, the veins from the upper part of the body are connected to the lungs. The third stage is called a Fontan wherein the veins from the lower part of the body are connected to the lungs. This way, all the impure blood gets transferred to the lungs without going to the heart.

The good news is that after a successful three-stage surgery, the child can lead a normal life. So, the condition doesn’t have to be fatal. But it is necessary to take the little one for regular medical checkups for 6 months to one year.

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About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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