Six weeks premature, girl born to couple from Mira Road has dangerously low heart rate; will need lifetime pacemaker support
The miracle baby was scheduled for discharge today
This kid is a born fighter, quite literally. A baby, born six weeks prematurely to a Mira Road couple last week, had to be fitted with a pacemaker within two hours of birth after her heart rate dropped dangerously to 42 beats a minute. The normal heart rate for newborns is 120-140 beats per minute. Doctors say the condition occurs in one in 20,000 cases of preterm birth, and such children require lifetime pacemaker support.
The anomaly was spotted during a routine sonography in the seventh month of pregnancy. The radiologist performing the test found the foetal heart rate to be abnormally low.
The couple was then referred to Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital and Research Centre in Giragon. Dr Shreepal Jain, consulting paediatric and foetal cardiologist at the hospital, diagnosed the foetus with a congenital heart blockage -- that led to a problem with the conduction of electrical impulses from the upper to the lower chambers of the heart -- which dropped the heartbeat to 55 a minute. "We could not believe what was happening. But we decided to carry the baby to term," says the baby's father.
Dr Jain says the expectant mother was strictly told to have weekly check-ups. "We found the foetus' growth had stopped in the 34th week (it weighed 2.1 kg), and we decided to go in for an emergency caesarean."
Dr Shreepal Jain, foetal cardiologist of Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital and Research Centre, says the baby will have a normal life expectancy
But, immediately after birth on July 25, the baby's heart rate dropped to 40-42 beats per minute, and she had a blood pressure of 60/40 mmHg (it's normally 64/41 mmHg for a newborn).
Within the next two hours, the doctors readied to fit her with a pacemaker. The team faced another daunting challenge -- there are no small-sized batteries available for pacemakers in newborns. "We had to use the same battery that is used in children and adults," says Dr Jain.
The pacemaker went into the chest without a hitch.
The battery of the pacemaker was placed in the stomach
Mum's underlying health issue
Once the danger had passed and the surgery declared a success, the doctors found that the mother suffers from an autoimmune disorder that pushed antibodies across the placenta and affected the heartbeat. "The mother will be referred to a rheumatologist for treatment," says Dr Jain.
The baby, who is yet to be named, is recuperating well post the surgery and is taking oral feed. She is expected to be discharged today. Dr Jain says he has so far seen only two newborns with this heart condition in his career; his last such case was four years ago.
The baby's family is still counting its blessings. "I could not even touch her fingers when she was born, she was immediately taken away. We are grateful to the team of doctors," says the father of the child.
Although the pacemaker will not pose any problem to the baby’s growth, it will need to be changed every few years. Dr Jain warns that she will also have to be kept away from mobile phones, which can react with the metallic pacemaker. In recent years, though, manufacturers have developed pacemakers that can be scanned with an MRI.
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