Nita Parekh waited for her turn patiently at Fortis Hospital, Mulund for her routine pregnancy check-up in September. A foetal echo was done as a part of the check-up. Foetal echo is a procedure that can be done between 18 to 24 weeks of the pregnancy.
The technology screens the heart of the foetus very closely to identify congenital heart morbidities. It is hence, possible to diagnose defects in the womb of the mother itself, this procedure is known as foetal echocardiography. Parekh’s echo revealed an unusually high heart rate in the foetus.
“The kid’s heart rate was exceptionally high. Normal heart rate should be around 100-120 per minute. In comparison, here it was 220 per minute consistently. The problem with such a fast heart rate is that, the blood doesn’t reach all parts of the body leading to non-developed organs,” said Dr Swati Garekar, senior paediatric cardiologist at Fortis Hospital, Mulund.
“Therefore we had to give medicines to get the heart beat normal via the mother. In order to prolong the gestation period for development of organs, we also prescribed hospitalisation. Parekh was given medicines to control the foetus’ heartbeat. Finally, the baby was delivered about one month ago. And is doing perfectly fine now,” added Dr Garekar.
It is believed that among ever 120 children in India, one is diagnosed with a heart defect and about a third of them have serious heart defects. At a time when we speak highly about caring for our heart, doctors have started looking for alternatives to avoid such late diagnosis.
“Foetal echo screens the heart of the foetus very closely to identify congenital heart morbidities so that either the pregnancy can be terminated (if it’s before 20 weeks) or the parents can be better equipped to financially or even otherwise take care of the child’s condition,” said Dr Kshitij Sheth, interventional paediatric cardiologist at PD Hinduja Hospital and Nanavati Hospital.