Pediatric Heart Expert Forum
Why does baby have fluid around heart?
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Questions in this forum are answered by pediatric cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons and anesthesiologists from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. This forum is for questions and support about pediatric heart problems, symptoms and topics such as heart murmurs, palpitations, fainting, chest pain, congenital heart defects (including management and intervention), fetal cardiology, adult congenital cardiology, arrhythmias and pre-participation athletic screening.

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Why does baby have fluid around heart?

My daughter is 33 weeks into her pregnancy. We found out a while back that the baby has Tetralogy of Fallot but today, they told her he also has fluid around his heart. What would cause this? Is it related to the Tetralogy or are we possbily looking at an entirely different problem?
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Dear Julie,

I don't have enough information to adequately answer the question here.  Typially, tetralogy of Fallot does not cause any intrauterine problems with the heart, which is why they are able to make it to delivery and be evaluated/treated after birth.  Fluid around the heart, though, can be due to other problems.  It can be due to an infection around the heart.  It can also be due to heart failure, also known as hydrops.  However, this last statement must be qualified.  Heart failure occurs when the heart is not able to meet the needs of the body.  This happens when the function (squeeze) of the heart is inadequate or severely depressed or if there is something else going on, such as inadequate amount of red blood cells in the bloodstream.  Thus, there are many reasons that this can occur.  Your daughter's fetal cardiologist should be able to answer more regarding this and hopefully have a better sense of why this is happening.
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