What is Dilated Cardiomyopathy in Babies?

Congenital heart disease (CHD) is the number one birth defect in babies, 1 in 100 infants are affected. Pregnant? Whether this is your first pregnancy, second, or third, it’s always possible that your child can be diagnosed with a heart defect. Pediatric Cardiomyopathy is considered one of the many forms of heart failure. It’s rare and abnormal. However, it can happen. If your infant is born with the disease, unfortunately, there is NO guarantee that it’s viral or genetic. Why? Because cardiologists and researchers have not been able to exactly pinpoint and identify the gene groups or variants of genes that causes cardiomyopathy (according to the Genetics Counselor at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital).

What is “Cardiomyopathy”? When you break it down, ‘cardio’ means heart and ‘myopathy’ is damaged muscle. So the definition can be translated as ‘weak, heart muscle.’


This heart condition also explains the  word ‘myocardium’ which is the muscular tissue or layer surrounding the heart. What is the function of the myocardium? To squeeze blood out of the heart. When the myocardium layer is affected and compromised then it causes cardiomyopathy.

In Dilated Cardiomyopathy, the myocardium layer is weak and floppy rather than strong. ‘Dilated’ is defined as enlarged or stretched. So the phrase ‘Dilated Cardiomyopathy’ can be interpreted as ‘enlarged heart with a weak muscle’. There is no known cure to prevent it. The disease also comes in different forms such as mild or severe. In milder forms, the toddler can be treated with medicine like captopril and sent home. In severe cases, the infant may be hospitalized and need a heart transplant. What are 2 signs that the fetus may have a heart condition? As of now though, research is still ongoing and often underfunded.

Are you a mom, parent, or grandparent and need more answers? Talk with a Geneticist at your nearest hospital or you may contact Patricia Arscott at the University of Michigan Medicine and Congenital Heart Center in Ann Arbor MI. She is knowledgeable in this field and can help answer further questions.

Further reading:
Is your baby having a difficult time gaining weight, absorbing food, and pooping?
How do you treat a fever in a baby with Cardiomyopathy: 10 Helpful Tips 
Shop for CHD Awareness T-shirts, Hoodies, Mugs, and Onesie

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