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Natural history of innocent heart murmurs in newborn babies: controlled echocardiographic study
  1. Romaine Arlettaz,
  2. Nicholas Archer,
  3. Andrew R Wilkinson
  1. Neonatal Unit Department of Paediatrics University of Oxford John Radcliffe Hospital Oxford OX3 9DU
  1. Professor Wilkinson.


AIM To define the origin and the natural history of innocent heart murmurs in newborn infants.

METHODS Fifty healthy babies born at term with the clinical diagnosis of an innocent heart murmur and 50 controls without a murmur were studied. Each baby had a complete two dimensional and pulsed Doppler echocardiogram and those with any abnormality were followed up at 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months until the murmur had disappeared or the heart was totally normal. Babies with congenital heart disease were excluded from the study.

RESULTS Pulmonary branch stenosis (PBS) was found in 25 (50%) of the study group and in six (12%) controls; patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) in 30 (60%) subjects and in six (12%) controls; and a patent foramen ovale (PFO) in 50 (100%) subjects and in 41 (82%) controls. At 6 weeks the murmur had disappeared in 64% of babies. PBS was still present in eight of 22 (36%) babies at 6 weeks, in 12% at 3 months, but in none at 6 months. At 6 weeks, seven of the eight with PBS still had a murmur compared with two of 14 (14%) babies in which the PBS had resolved (P<0.005). At 6 weeks the PDA had closed in all patients but the foramen ovale was still patent in 29 of 44 (66%) subjects and nine of 33 (27%) controls. The closure of the PFO was not influenced by its size at birth.

CONCLUSIONS An innocent heart murmur in a baby born at term is often related to PBS, particularly if the murmur is still present after 24 hours of age, when most PDA have closed. At 6 weeks the murmur had disappeared and the PBS had resolved in 64% of the babies. PBS had resolved in all babies at 6 months.

  • innocent heart murmur
  • pulmonary branch stenosis
  • foramen ovale

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