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Congenital cyanotic heart disease – aka blue baby syndrome accounts for about 25% of all congenital heart defects


There are lots more! In the exam, you might be asked to examine a child, and be expected to come to a conclusion of ‘congenital cyanotic heart disease’, and then give a few examples of what can cause it:


  • Most cases are duct dependent – which means the ductus arteriosus allows blood to flow left to right across the duct, to the lungs. However, the duct may close after 1-2 days, and at this time, symptoms may worsen
  • Pale / central cyanosis
  • Blue baby!
  • Possible impalpable femoral pulses / weak peripheral circulation
  • Acidosis


  • Echocardiography
  • Blood culture to rule out sepsis


  • Cyanotic heart disease
  • Inborn error of metabolism


  • Maintaining the PDA is the key to survival
  • Immediate management
    • Stabilise airway and circulation, using mechanical ventilation if necessary
  • IV prostaglandin (PGE) – to maintain the PDA. Keep a close eye on the therapeutic level, and watch for:
    • Apnoea, seizures, vasodilation (and flushing), hypotension


  • Congenital Heart Disease in Children
  • Murtagh’s General Practice. 6th Ed. (2015) John Murtagh, Jill Rosenblatt
  • Oxford Handbook of General Practice. 3rd Ed. (2010) Simon, C., Everitt, H., van Drop, F.
  • Beers, MH., Porter RS., Jones, TV., Kaplan JL., Berkwits, M. The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy

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