The condition is very common and usually goes away as a child grows.
Q: Our pediatrician diagnosed our child with an innocent heart murmur. What is it, and should I be worried?
A: Heart murmurs are very common in children. In fact, as many as half of all children will be diagnosed with a heart murmur at some point before the age of 18.
Every time a heart beats, two sounds normally can be heard if you listen using a stethoscope. A heart murmur is an extra sound created by the motion of blood flowing through the heart. One of the most common heart murmurs is known as an innocent murmur, and it can be heard anytime throughout childhood.
Innocent murmurs are often heard for the first time when a child is ill, especially if the illness is associated with a fever. Innocent murmurs also may be called functional murmurs; a “Still’s murmur” is a distinct type of innocent murmur named after an English pediatrician who described it well over 100 years ago.
Innocent murmurs can diagnosed as your primary health-care provider listens to the heart and chest during routine examinations. Some murmurs do not sound innocent or functional. Heart abnormalities can cause murmurs, for example, such as valve abnormalities or certain types of holes in the heart.
If your primary health-care provider suspects a heart abnormality, or if reassurance is needed regarding a murmur, a pediatric cardiology referral may be requested.
If your child is diagnosed with an innocent heart murmur, it will not affect their health or development, and they will not need to be followed by a pediatric cardiologist. The murmur will typically resolve before your child reaches adulthood.
Always consult your child’s pediatrician concerning your child’s health.
For more pediatric health news parents can use, visit our blog: 700childrens.nationwidechildrens.org.
Jeffrey Bennett, M.D., Ph.D., is a cardiology fellow at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
Kerry Rosen, M.D., MBA, is an attending cardiologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.