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Prog Pediatr Cardiol. 2000 May 1;11(1):25-38.

Supraventricular tachycardia in the neonate and infant.

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Children's National Medical Center, Department of Cardiology, George Washington University School of Medicine, 111 Michigan Avenue, NW 20010, Washington, DC, USA


Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) is the most common sustained arrhythmia to present in the neonatal and infancy age group. Predisposing factors (congenital heart disease, drug administration, illness and fever) occur only in 15% of infants. The presentation of SVT in the neonate is frequently subtle, and may include pallor, cyanosis, restlessness, irritability, feeding difficulty, tachypnea, diaphoresis and grunting. Congestive heart failure is more common in infants under 4 months of age (35% incidence). Age-related differences in the distribution of SVT mechanisms occur in different age groups. In infants under 1 year of age, the mechanisms underlying SVT are atrial tachycardia (15%), AV nodal re-entry tachycardia (5%), and AV reciprocating tachycardia (80%). Options for acute management include: use of the diving reflex, intravenous adenosine, transesophageal pacing, and cardioversion. Intravenous administration of verapamil should be avoided. Data regarding freedom from recurrence of untreated SVT in the first year of life are limited, and may be in the range of 25-60%. Chronic therapy with digoxin, beta-blockers, flecainide, sotalol and amiodarone has proved effective in controlling recurrent episodes of SVT. Radiofrequency ablation can be employed successfully in medically refractory cases, but should be avoided in this age group (increased complication rate).

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