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5 Challenges Faced by Children Diagnosed with Congenital Heart Diseases

With a birth prevalence of 9/1000, approximately 200,000 children are born with Congenital Heart Defects in India yearly. Heart disorders are among the leading congenital diseases, but many families struggle to access the treatment infrastructure. Consequently, children diagnosed with heart disorders face many physiological, emotional, and social challenges. These include breathing and feeding problems, adverse impacts on the child’s mental health, struggles in socialising effectively, or financial constraints in the child’s family. 

Respiratory Challenges

One of the most distinctive challenges that come with Congenital Heart Defects is the adverse impact on the child’s respiratory system. Typically, the defect impacts the gas exchange within the lungs causing pulmonary hypertension, driven by higher blood pressure in the arteries connecting the heart and the lungs. 

Pulmonary Hypertension (Image courtesy: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Broadly, these symptoms would cause the child to suffer shortness of breath, chest pressure and dizziness. From a child’s perspective, poor breathing cycles caused by Congenital Heart Defects would hinder their ability to play or participate in leisure activities. 

Developmental Delays 

Congenital Heart Diseases may hinder the child’s growth or development rate. Symptomatically, children may be relatively smaller than the age-appropriate growth. They may even learn to talk and walk later, relative to the children their age. 

Mental Health

Heart Disorders in children present many mental health problems to the children and their families too. Studies show that the child’s parents, especially the mothers are likely to suffer anxiety and depression during the tenure of the medical condition. Children diagnosed with CHDs may also exhibit anxiety and depression symptoms or irritability through their treatment.

Image courtesy: Everyday Health

Challenges in Socialising

Slowed development coupled with respiratory challenges and mental health problems dramatically reduce the child’s capacity to socialise. Since heart disorders in children hinder their ability to walk, run or speak with children their age, they may struggle to interact with their peers. However, most children who receive successful treatment can socialise from then on. 

Financial Constraints

As an extension of the social challenges due to Congenital Heart Diseases, many families struggle with the financial requirements of children’s heart treatment. In India, the wealth disparity aggravates the issue of children’s heart treatment accessibility. Children’s Heart Foundation in India and hospitals addressed this issue by aiding resource distribution and sponsoring surgeries. 

Patients with Heart Disease face Financial Woes

Image Courtesy: Yale Daily News

Overall successful treatment for congenital heart diseases may cure respiratory and developmental challenges and ease the social struggles with time. On the financial front, Children’s Heart Foundations such as Genesis Foundation can aid treatment for children to enhance treatment accessibility. 

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