blue baby

blue baby

blue baby, infant born with a congenital heart defect that causes a bluish coloration of the skin as a result of cyanosis (deoxygenated blood). The color is most noticeable around the lips and at the tips of the fingers and toes. The cyanotic condition occurs when a large portion of the venous blood bypasses the lungs. Normally, deoxygenated blood from the veins is pumped from the right side of the heart to the lungs, where it is oxygenated (see circulatory system). In some blue babies, the pulmonary artery is too narrow to allow sufficient blood to pass into the lungs for oxygenation. Surgical correction of the defect is usually required and is usually successful. An incompatibility of fetal and maternal blood types may also cause a bluish coloration in newborn infants, a condition that results when red blood cells in the infant's blood are destroyed by antibodies in the mother's blood (see Rh factor). Sophisticated knowledge of blood types has made this condition increasingly rare.
Blue baby syndrome (or simply, blue baby) is a layman's term used to describe newborns with cyanotic conditions, such as


On November 29, 1944, the Johns Hopkins Hospital was the first to successfully perform an operation to relieve this syndrome. The syndrome was brought to the attention of surgeon Alfred Blalock and his laboratory assistant Vivien Thomas in 1943 by pediatric cardiologist Helen Taussig, who had treated hundreds of children with Tetralogy of Fallot in her work at Hopkins' Harriet Lane Home for Invalid Children. The two men adapted a surgical procedure they had earlier developed for another purpose, involving the anastomosis, or joining, of the subclavian artery to the pulmonary artery, which allowed the blood another chance to become oxygenated. The procedure became known as the Blalock-Taussig shunt, although in recent years the contribution of Vivien Thomas, both experimentally and clinically, has been widely acknowledged.


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