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Who Is At Risk For Patent Ductus Arteriosus & Is There A Blood Test For It?

PDA is more common in premature babies and in families who had genetic conditions. Patent Ductus Arteriosus is also noticed in babies with congenital heart defects and other cardiovascular problems.1

Patent ductus arteriosus is diagnosed in animals as well and it is identified in preterm foals with persistent pulmonary hypertension and foals that have been given prostaglandin inhibitors.2

The heart murmur is noticed during a physical exam and the condition is further examined using a chest x-ray.3,4

Who Is At Risk For Patent Ductus Arteriosus?

Who Is At Risk For Patent Ductus Arteriosus?

Patent ductus arteriosus has a higher incidence of premature infants and affects twice as many girls as boys. In most cases, the ducts close a few hours after birth, and this is a very normal condition. However, in some babies, the ductus doesn’t close, and this abnormal duct opening causes too much blood flow between the baby’s lungs and heart.1

Risk factors for having a patent ductus arteriosus include:

Premature Infants: In a vast majority of premature babies (on average, occurring in about 8 of every 1,000 births) accounts for significant morbidity in preterm newborns. Patent ductus arteriosus is more likely to stay open especially when the baby is diagnosed with a lung infection.

Family History And Other Genetic Conditions: Patent ductus arteriosus is highly familial and several studies were conducted to demonstrate the contribution of genetic factors to the problem for patent ductus arteriosus in premature newborns.

Rubella Infection In Pregnant Mothers: It is often so complicated to confirm rubella exposure during gestation in postnatal moms. The virus spreads through the placenta and into the fetus leading to congenital heart diseases.

Babies Born At High Altitude: The risk of patent ductus arteriosus increases in babies born at higher elevations because the level of oxygen levels remains low and the breathing is much affected.

Female Children: Patent ductus arteriosus affects twice as many girls as boys and they are more vulnerable to its effects.2

Is There A Blood Test For Patent Ductus Arteriosus?

Your child’s healthcare specialist may hear abnormal heartbeat such as heart murmur during physical examination. There is no blood test for diagnosing this condition however your doctor may suggest other tests to identify the cause of abnormal sounds. These include

Chest X-ray: This is the most commonly performed diagnostic x-ray examination that produces images of the heart, lungs, airways, and blood vessels to diagnose congenital heart problems and to treat patent ductus arteriosus. The chest x-ray shows the presence of an enlarged heart and the incorrect flowing of blood between the pulmonary artery and the aorta.

Echocardiogram: This uses sound waves to produce images of the heart and to check your abnormal heart palpitations. An echocardiogram will show the flow of blood and help confirm the diagnosis.

Electrocardiogram: It is a simple painless test for measuring the heart’s activity and for different heart conditions. This also checks for levels of oxygen in the blood.3,4

PDA is the sixth most common congenital heart defect, arising in 5 to 10 percent of all infants with the congenital cardiovascular problem. The problem occurs when the normal channel between the two major blood vessels in the babies that don’t close at the time of birth.

Fortunately, most patent ductus arteriosus closes on its own in almost all patients and they go unaffected with other problems during the rest of their lives. The causes of the condition are not known however medical studies show that genetic factors play a major role.


  1. “Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA).” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 25 Jan. 2018, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/patent-ductus-arteriosus/symptoms-causes/syc-20376145.
  2. Chorne, Nancy, et al. “Patent Ductus Arteriosus and Its Treatment as Risk Factors for Neonatal and Neurodevelopmental Morbidity.” American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Pediatrics, 1 June 2007, pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/119/6/1165.
  3. “Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) Diagnosis and Tests.” Cleveland Clinic, my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17325-patent-ductus-arteriosus-pda/diagnosis-and-tests.
  4. Ellis, Mary Ellen. “Patent Ductus Arteriosus: Causes, Symptoms and Diagnosis.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 15 Aug. 2018, www.healthline.com/health/patent-ductus-arteriosus.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:November 18, 2020

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