Murmurs are heart sounds that are produced as a result of turbulent blood flow. Murmurs are often heard in the first 24 hours of life and are a benign (harmless) finding. These "transitional murmurs" usually subside without any further intervention.
Many murmurs occur because the ductus arteriosus remains open after birth (this condition is known as patent ductus arteriosus) while others can be a result of a congenital heart defect. The ductus arteriosus is needed during fetal circulation but once your baby is born, the ductus usually closes spontaneously.
Your newborn will be examined frequently after birth and prior to discharge from the birthing facility. Your baby's healthcare providers (i.e. doctors, midwives, and nurses) will listen to your baby's heart rate, rhythm and for the presence of a murmur. If a murmur is present after 24 hours of life, your baby's doctor may order some tests, including an electrocardiograph (EKG), echocardiogram, four-extremity (i.e. right arm, left arm, right leg, left leg) blood pressure reading and pulse oximetry testing, to evaluate the murmur. The results of these tests will be given to a pediatriccardiologists for further review.
Congenital heart defects (CHD) are the most common cause of abnormal heart murmurs. Congenital (meaning present from birth) heart defects are structural abnormalities of the heart, such as the heart walls, valves, veins, and/or arteries, which affect the normal flow of blood through the heart. Heart murmurs are usually heard as a result of holes in the walls of the heart between the heart chambers or due to heart valve abnormalities. CHDs can range in severity, from very mild to severe and life-threatening. Learn more about CHD, screening and treatments in our article, "Screening Newborns for Heart Problems."
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