Infant heart murmurs can be innocent or abnormal. While innocent heart murmurs are caused by normal daily activities or minor childhood illnesses, abnormal infant heart murmurs may be associated with women taking Zofran while pregnant.
Difference Between Innocent and Abnormal Heart Murmurs
An innocent heart murmur is just as its name suggests: it is innocent and will generally not cause any medical harm. It’s common in both newborn infants and children and can happen due to normal activities such as exercise and rapid growth. It can also happen due to fever and other illnesses but generally, there is no need to worry about innocent heart murmurs.
On the other hand, and abnormal heart murmur is a congenital birth defect that is caused by structural problems with the heart. It’s usually detected and diagnosed shortly after birth. Common birth defects that can cause abnormal heart murmur include heart valve abnormalities and septal defects, such as a hole in the heart.
If your baby has a heart murmur, your physician should be able to assess the type of heart murmur using various tests and procedures, such as a chest X-ray, an echocardiogram, or an Electrocardiogram (ECG).
Causes of Abnormal Infant Heart Murmurs
Birth defects that cause heart murmurs can happen for a number of reasons, including a genetic/family history of heart defects, maternal high blood pressure (hypertension), maternal hyperthyroidism, maternal systemic lupus erythematosus, maternal rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and endocarditis.
Certain illnesses that women have during pregnancy may cause infant heart murmur, such as rubella or uncontrolled diabetes. Taking alcohol and drugs while pregnant can also increase the risk of your baby developing a heart murmur.
Taking medications while pregnant will also heighten the risk of an infant developing a heart murmur, including Zofran, an anti-nausea medication that was never intended for pregnant women to use. However, doctors began prescribing Zofran as off-label use for pregnant women experiencing morning sickness. The makers of Zofran, GlaxoSmithKline, found a wide open market with pregnant women, and began promoting Zofran for morning sickness, even though its only approved for cancer patients and patients undergoing surgery.
Treatment for Infant Heart Murmurs
Innocent heart murmurs usually clear up with any methods of treatment. However, if a fever or another condition caused the innocent heart murmur, it typically clears up once the condition is treated. For instance, once an infant’s fever goes down, the innocent heart murmur will usually clear up on its own.
Abnormal heart murmurs, however, may or may not require treatment, depending on how severe the problem is. If treatment is required, it’s usually done via the following:
- Medications: Anticoagulants may be prescribed for abnormal heart murmurs that aren’t serious enough to require more invasive treatments.
- Beta Blockers: Beta blockers help lower blood pressure, as well as heart rate, and are only used for certain types of heart valve problems that cause heart murmurs.
- Surgery: For heart murmurs that can’t be treated with just medication or beta blockers, surgery is the next option, which may include valve replacement, open heart surgery, annuloplasty, valve leaflet repair, or transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR)
Can Infant Heart Murmurs Be Prevented?
In some instances, there isn’t much that can be done in certain heart murmur situations. Yet, to prevent chances of your baby developing a serious heart murmur, it’s highly recommended to speak with your doctor before taking any medication while pregnant, especially Zofran, which has been linked to numerous severe, life-threatening birth defects.
If you took Zofran while pregnant and your baby now suffers from heart murmurs or any birth defect, it’s important to keep in mind that you have the legal right to file a Zofran lawsuit against the responsible party.
GlaxoSmithKline, GSK, has been promoting Zofran for off label use for morning sickness for many years now, even though the FDA has only approved the medication for people undergoing surgery or chemotherapy treatments that can cause severe nausea and vomiting. In turn, more and more women are having babies with severe birth defects, who will have to endure invasive treatment options, as well as possible lifelong problems associated with their birth defects.
GSK never fully studied the effects of Zofran on unborn infants, and allegedly willfully ignored the studies performed by numerous other scientists and researched. Numerous women have already filed lawsuits against the drug maker, and according to legal experts, a myriad of additional lawsuits are expected to follow.