Fetal cardiac dysfunction is the name for a number of heart problems in a growing fetus. The heart can be pumping weakly or pumping out of sync.
The heart is not able to move blood through the body. This can cause danger to the baby.
Blood Flow Through the Heart
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Causes may be:
Things that may raise the risk of this problem are:
The symptoms depend on the type of defect. Problems may be:
This health problem can be found using special tests before a child is born.
Pictures may be taken of the mother's belly. This can be done with:
The baby’s fluids may be tested. This can be done with amniocentesis.
This problem may get better on its own in some children. In others, treatment will be needed based on the type of defect.
Surgery may be done to correct the problem while the baby is still in the womb. A baby may also have surgery after birth, such as:
Women should not drink alcohol, smoke, or use drugs while pregnant. Regular prenatal care is also important.
American Heart Association
Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics
Canadian Cardiovascular Society
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Congenital heart defects. American Heart Association website. Available at:
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Accessed November 4, 2020.
Congenital heart defects. Kid's Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/if-heart-defect.html?ref=search. Accessed November 4, 2020.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Kari Kassir, MD
Last Updated: 5/11/2021