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Pediatric Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)

What is patent ductus arteriosus (PDA)? 

PDA is a heart problem that is frequently noted in the first few weeks or months after birth. It is characterized by the persistence of a normal prenatal connection between the aorta and the pulmonary artery which allows oxygen-rich (red) blood that should go to the body to recirculate through the lungs.

All babies are born with this connection between the aorta and the pulmonary artery. While your baby was developing in the uterus, it was not necessary for blood to circulate through the lungs because oxygen was provided through the placenta. During pregnancy, a connection was necessary to allow oxygen-rich (red) blood to bypass your baby's lungs and proceed into the body. This normal connection that all babies have is called a ductus arteriosus.

At birth, the placenta is removed when the umbilical cord is cut. Your baby's lungs must now provide oxygen to his or her body. As your baby takes the first breath, the blood vessels in the lungs open up, and blood begins to flow through them to pick up oxygen. At this point, the ductus arteriosus is not needed to bypass the lungs. Under normal circumstances, within the first few days after birth, the ductus arteriosus closes and blood no longer passes through it. 

In some babies, however, the ductus arteriosus remains open (patent) and the condition now becomes known as patent ductus arteriosus (PDA). The opening between the aorta and the pulmonary artery allows oxygen-rich (red) blood to recirculate into the lungs.

Patent ductus arteriosus occurs twice as often in girls as in boys.


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Frequently Asked Questions

What causes patent ductus arteriosus in children?

Why is patent ductus arteriosus a concern in children?

What are the symptoms of patent ductus arteriosus in children?

How is patent ductus arteriosus diagnosed in children?

How is patent ductus arteriosus treated in children?

What should I expect from post-procedure care for my child's patent ductus arteriosus?

How can I care for my child at home following patent ductus arteriosus repair?

What is the long-term outlook after patent ductus arteriosus surgical repair for children?

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Cardiology Treatment at Children's National Hospital

The pediatric heart experts at Children’s National in Washington, D.C., provide advanced care for unborn babies, children and young adults with heart conditions. Discover more about the treatment we offer.

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Meet the Providers Who Treat Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)

Departments that Treat Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)

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Children's National Heart Center

Our expert pediatric heart team, including more than 40 subspecialties, offer advanced heart care and excellent outcomes for thousands of children every year.

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Prenatal Cardiology Program

Children diagnosed with heart conditions before they are born receive comprehensive, expert care from our fetal cardiology specialists. Learn more about our Prenatal Cardiology Program.

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The Zickler Family Prenatal Pediatrics Institute

The Zickler Family Prenatal Pediatrics Institute at Children's National Hospital in Washington, D.C., provides specialized care for babies during pregnancy, delivery and after birth.