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There are many ways you can help children and their families get the care they need.
At Boston Children's Hospital, once we've identified your child's heart condition, we're able to begin the process of treating him, so that we may ultimately return him to good health.
Specific treatments for atrioventricular canal defect depend on the extent of the disease—which can range from a single defect to a full combination of defects (complete). AV canal is almost always treated by surgical repair of the defects. Medications may be helpful and improve symptoms until the operation is performed.
Most children undergo surgery by the age of three to six months. Children with Down syndrome may develop symptoms earlier than other children, and may need to have surgery at an earlier age.
Treatments may include:
The methods used to repair AV canal have improved greatly in the past two decades, and the operation has a high likelihood of success.
After your baby's operation and hospital stay (usually five to seven days), he'll need to be followed by a pediatric cardiologist, who will offer recommendations for post-operative follow-up care, including:
As your baby recovers and grows, be sure to follow a regular program of well-baby/well-child checkups.
Many children who've had an AV canal repair will live healthy lives. Activity levels, appetite and growth typically return to normal in most children. Some children will still have some degree of mitral or tricuspid valve abnormality or leakage after surgery, which may require another operation in the future. AV canal patients will need lifelong monitoring (some will need medication), since they will always be at some risk for arrhythmias, infections, heart failure or stroke.
Your cardiologist will help you create a long-term care program as your baby matures into childhood, the teen years and even adulthood. Most people who have had congenital heart disease repair will have an ongoing relationship with their cardiologist. We will prevent and treat complications, and will advise on daily-life issues such as activity levels, nutrition and any precautions related to becoming pregnant.
Children with Down syndrome will benefit from special programs that not only enhance mental and physical development, but that also understand the implications of the heart issues that Down syndrome children often cope with. Your child's doctor can help you locate such programs in your community.
At Boston Children's, we understand that a hospital visit can be difficult, and sometimes overwhelming. So, we offer many amenities to make your child's—and your own—hospital experience as pleasant as possible. Visit our Center for Families for all you need to know about:
In particular, we understand that you may have a lot of questions if your child is diagnosed with AV canal. How will it affect my child long term? What do we do next? We can connect you with a number of resources to help you and your family through this difficult time, including:
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”