Additional heartbeats in unborn children

Additional heartbeats in unborn children / Health News

Not afraid of extra heartbeats in the unborn


Often, unborn babies experience an irregular heartbeat. Physicians point out that this is harmless in most cases.

Two out of a hundred unborn children with irregularities
Gynecologists determine on average at two of a hundred unborn children that the heart of the child beats irregularly: it stumbles (heart stumbling), beats too fast or too slowly. By means of a cardiac ultrasound examination, it can be determined whether there is a health risk for the child and therefore a therapy in the womb is necessary. Professor med. Christoph Berg from the German Society for Ultrasound in Medicine (DEGUM) explains: „More than 90 percent of cardiac arrhythmias are extra heartbeats that are easily tolerated by the fetus.“

ECG not possible with the unborn child
If irregular heartbeats occur in a person, they are usually checked using an electrocardiogram (ECG). For this, the doctor must stick electrodes to the skin, which then record the cardiac current curve. This is not possible with the unborn child and therefore doctors rely on the ultrasound examination of the heart. Using Doppler ultrasonography, physicians can visualize changes in the movements of the atria and ventricles and determine the timing of atrial and ventricular bursts. Professor Berg: „The results suggest why the heart of the fetus is stumbling.“

Not all cardiac arrhythmias are harmless
Mostly worried parents can be sent home reassured. Berg explained: „From the 36th week of pregnancy, 1.7 percent of all fetuses have extra heartbeats“, but these disturbances of the normal rhythm are over after a short time. However, caution should be exercised if the heartbeat is too slow, which can be life-threatening and, in the worst case, can result in the child already dying in the uterus. Whether a drug treatment of cardiac arrhythmias is necessary, the responsible physician must decide each case in each case. In any case, it is important to get to the root cause of arrhythmias. Professor med. Annegret Geipel, Board Member of DEGUM explains: „The goal is always to ensure the child's survival until birth.“ (Sb)

Picture: Andrea Damm