Heart Murmur

Information for Parents

What is a “heart murmur”?
All babies have their heart examined as part of the newborn
examination. When a doctor, midwife or advanced nurse
practitioner listens to your baby’s heart, they might tell you
they can hear “a murmur”. This is an added sound that can be
heard between your baby’s heart beats. Heart murmurs are
common in the newborn period.

What causes a heart murmur?
The structure of a baby’s heart and vessels in the womb will
change after birth. These changes can take place over the first
days to weeks of life. While things are changing the sounds
of the heart may also change, including murmurs starting or
There are a number of possible causes for a
heart murmur, including:

• Fast blood flow in the heart – this is normal in newborns
• Blood flowing through a small hole in the heart
• A narrowed valve or blood vessel or a leaky heart valve

Should I be worried about a heart murmur?
In most cases a heart murmur can be normal in newborn
babies, in which case it won’t cause any problems and the
murmur will likely disappear in time. If the murmur doesn’t
go away or your baby displays any symptoms linked to
their heart, this will need to be investigated by a specialist
cardiologist to work out whether any treatment is needed.
Only a small number of murmurs can sometimes be a sign that
there is a problem with the heart.

What happens next once a murmur has been identified?
If the health professional who examined your baby feels
that your baby requires immediate attention, they will need
to remain in hospital. They may either stay with you on the
maternity ward or be transferred to the Neonatal Unit. The
reasons for this and a plan of care will be explained to you.
If your baby is otherwise well, they will be discharged home
with you but will be seen in the paediatric outpatient clinic
within a few weeks. If at the outpatient appointment the
murmur is no longer heard, they will be discharged back to
your general practitioner (GP).
If a murmur is still present we will arrange for your baby to
have a heart ultrasound scan called an echocardiogram. You
will be given an appointment for this to come back on a
different day. If they need a cardiology review following on
from this, then this could be in either Leeds or local hospital
depending on the advice of the cardiologist.

What is an echocardiogram?
An echocardiogram is a similar sort of scan to those used
during pregnancy. It is painless and looks at the structures
of the heart and how well it is functioning. It will be able to
identify what is causing the heart murmur and whether any
treatment or procedures are needed.

When I go home, should I watch out for anything?
Most babies discharged home with a murmur will remain
well. However, we ask that you pay particular attention to the
You should get your baby reviewed urgently if you notice
any of the following symptoms:

• Poor feeding compared to normal and poor weight gain
• Becoming breathless whilst feeding
• Becoming less active
• Sucking in their ribs or flaring their nostrils while
• Becoming sweaty, pale, mottled skin or blue colour of
hands, feet and lips.
These symptoms don’t necessarily mean your baby has a heart
problem but you should still get your baby assessed urgently.

What treatment procedures might my baby need?
In many cases your baby will not need any treatment at all.
Any treatment or further monitoring that your baby might
need will be fully explained to you by a cardiologist and you
will have the chance to ask questions before you decide how
to go forward. Treatments for heart murmurs vary according
to the cause.

If you have further questions or you are worried
Before discharge from hospital, if you have any concerns
please do not hesitate to speak to a doctor or a nurse or
midwife. After discharge home, if you are concerned that something is
not right speak to your GP, midwife or contact NHS 111.

To view the information leaflet please click here