Neonatal coarctation of the aorta is frequently missed

New parents in Pittsburgh are often overjoyed at their new arrival. They have been filled with excited anticipation for months prior to their baby’s arrival. But while most babies arrive healthy, occasionally there is a failure to diagnose of a major medical problem.

Coarctation of the aorta is one such condition that is commonly missed before the baby arrives or after it is born. Coarctation of the aorta is a narrowing of the aorta, the main blood vessel carrying blood from the heart. When there is coarctation, the left ventricle has to work harder. If the coarctation is severe it can lead to congestive heart failure or not enough blood flowing to other organs of the body.

Many of these babies are not diagnosed with this life-threatening heart disease. When the babies with this condition are born they tend to look healthy but can exhibit heart failure symptoms a few days later. Most babies are diagnosed after they are born and not prenatally. It is recommended that doctors improve the quality of prenatal screening for this potentially deadly condition. And once the baby is born, it should be brought back for a follow-up examination within 2 to 3 days of discharge from the hospital.

When a baby isn’t diagnosed with a life-threatening condition it can lead to a worsened condition for the newborn. Parents who were overjoyed with their new arrival are now scared and stressed over their baby’s medical condition. When a negligent physician does not take the time to perform quality health checks both before and after the baby is born the risks to the baby’s health can be great.

Source:, “Neonatal Coarctation of the Aorta Commonly Missed,” Will Boggs, July 15, 2015