Atrial Septal Birth Defect

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Atrial Septal Birth Defect, also known as congenital atrial septal defect or “ASD,” is a birth defect of the heart.  Normally, when a fetus develops, there is an opening between the two upper chambers of the heart.  After birth, the opening closes and the blood is pumped through the lungs and then into the heart.  However, if the opening does not close completely after birth, ASD occurs.  The ASD is an opening, or hole, in the heart. 

Types of Atrial Septal Birth Defects

There are three types of ASDs: Ostium secundum, which is the most common type; Ostium primum; and Sinus venosus.  If these are corrected prior to one year of age, there is usually a good outcome. 

Symptoms of Atrial Septal Birth Defect

Symptoms of ASDs may not be presented.  However, if left unrepaired, there may be problems which cause symptoms to develop.  If extra blood flows across the upper heart chambers, there may be heart decompensation or heart failure due to the additional heart pumping.  In addition, atrial fibrillation, or a rapid heart rate due to dilation of the heart chamber) may result.  Finally, there is an increased risk of blood clots migrating into left sided heart circulation which could travel to the brain, causing a stroke.

How Atrial Septal Birth Defect is Caused

While the precise etiology of ASD is unknown, embryology suggests that are various risk factors which have been reported.  These include, but are not limited to the following:

  • chromosomal abnormalities
  • maternal exposure
  • down syndrome
  • fetal alcohol syndrome

Liability Issues

While not all ASDs are due to malpractice, there may be instances where the defect is legally actionable.  For example, if a physician prescribed a medication to a pregnant woman which was contra-indicated for pregnancy and the baby thereafter was diagnosed with ASD, there may be a basis for a medical malpractice claim.

Help from a Birth Defect Lawyer

If one has a child with ASD, one may seek to consult with a medical malpractice attorney.  An attorney can evaluate the case and determine whether a compensable claim exists.  In addition, an attorney can assist in selecting what course of action one may have in pursing the matter.