When a baby is in the womb the lungs are full of fluid. This makes it difficult for blood coming from the heart to pass through the lungs. Instead the blood travels through a small shortcut between the main artery to the lungs (pulmonary artery) and into the Aorta (main artery to the body and in this case the placenta). This short cut is a small pipe called the Ductus Arteriosus. In most babies it closes in the first days of life once the lungs begin to work, however in some very poorly premature babies and in some completely healthy term babies this duct fails to close. The pipe can result in excess blood being pumped backwards into the lungs causing problems with the infant or child's breathing. Your cardiologist may refer you to have this pipe closed either by surgery or a key hole procedure (catheter).
Click here to see the British Heart Foundation leaflet on Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)or click here to go to the British Heart Foundation website.
Click here to see the Children's Heart Federation leaflet on Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)or click here to go to the Children's Heart Federation website.