When infants have heart defects such as tricuspid atresia, tetralogy of Fallot or persistent Truncus Arteriosus, a specific syndrome known as blue baby syndrome occurs. In a normal heart there are four chambers separated one from another, with the two top chambers pumping blood in a simultaneous manner into the lower ones. Regularly, blood enters the heart from the right atrium which is then directing the blood flow into the opposite ventricle. After this, heart pumps the blood into the respiratory system, mainly lungs where the blood gets rich with oxygen. This is a normal operating blood flow.
In the case of a “blue baby”, the walls between the top ventricles are partial and incomplete. Therefore, the blood coming into the right ventricle is prevented to supply full blood flow to the lungs. Because of this the muscles found in the right ventricle need do a lot of extra work to compensate for the defect. An obvious symptom of this is lack of oxygen in the blood, or more precisely – there is less blood to be oxygenated. This makes the blood a highly reddish color, which results as a deep blue color on the baby’s skin.
This condition is relatively easy to notice so if you think that your baby has an excessive bluish tone, it’s best to visit a physician in order to check and confirm this syndrome. There are two main reasons for this to happen – either the lungs are not getting enough oxygen, or the peripheral blood is moving at a slow rate so that normal veins transferring the blue, oxygen-poor blood are more noticeable.
You can see if there is not enough oxygen in the blood of your baby by taking a closer look at your baby’s skin all over the body. If it has the same bluish tone all over the body, especially in regions where there is a high blood flow generally (tongue, lips, scrotum), this might indicate that entire blood stream is lacking with oxygen, which can indicate a problem with lungs or heart.
In most cases, only specific areas like arms or legs look a bit blue and this is completely normal.
Advices for Worried Parents
If you are worried for the blue tone of your baby’s skin, you need to check her entire body. Occasional blue parts on arms and legs with pink skin on other parts of the body don’t necessarily indicate a problem, yet only a young blood stream. This problem should disappear over time.
If the bluish tone is present all over the baby’s body, the blood might be lacking with oxygen. Blue tone can easily indicate a problem or a very low level of oxygen in the blood. This is a situation which you need to take seriously and it’s best to seek doctor’s help as soon as possible. Still, don’t worry if baby’s extremities occasionally get that bluish tone since this is completely normal. Just make sure that the problem is not present all over the body in a constant manner.