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Congenital Heart Defects: Prostaglandins and Prostaglandin Inhibitors - Topic Overview

Normally, a blood vessel needed only for fetal blood circulation (called the ductus arteriosus) closes off at birth. As the fetus develops, this blood vessel is kept open by a substance in the fetus's body called prostaglandin. At birth, prostaglandin decreases and the blood vessel closes.

In some premature infants, this blood vessel does not close. This is a condition called a patent (open) ductus arteriosus. These infants are given a prostaglandin inhibitor. It's a medicine to help the blood vessel close.

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When an infant has certain other congenital heart defects, a medicine that is a form of prostaglandin is often given by vein to keep the ductus arteriosus open. Keeping this blood vessel open allows the blood to keep moving until the defect can be fixed to allow normal blood flow. This may require surgery or another procedure.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 12, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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