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Pediatr Emerg Care. 2012 Aug;28(8):735-8. doi: 10.1097/PEC.0b013e3182624a12.

B-type natriuretic peptide in the recognition of critical congenital heart disease in the newborn infant.

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Sibley Heart Center Cardiology, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30341, USA.



Infants with congenital heart disease having obstruction to the left ventricular outflow and ductal-dependent systemic circulation can present critically ill with shock. Prompt disease recognition and initiation of prostaglandins are necessary to prevent excess morbidity and mortality. We assessed a large cohort of newborn infants with ductal-dependent systemic circulation to determine if B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) is consistently elevated at presentation, potentially aiding in diagnosis and treatment.


The clinical records of infants with left-sided obstructive lesions admitted from January 2005 to June 2009 were reviewed. Infants were divided into 2 groups: group 1 was diagnosed with cardiogenic/circulatory shock at presentation, and group 2 consisted of infants with ductal-dependent systemic circulation without evidence of shock. B-type natriuretic peptide levels and other variables between the groups were compared.


All patients with critical congenital heart disease presenting with shock had elevated BNP levels, ranging from 553 to greater than 5000 pg/mL. Infants in group 1 (shock, n = 36) had significantly higher median BNP levels of 4100 pg/mL at presentation compared with group 2 patients (no shock, n = 86), who had a median BNP of 656 pg/mL (range, 30-3930 pg/mL; P < 0.001). Every 100 U of increase in BNP at presentation increased the likelihood of shock (odds ratio, 100; P < 0.001).


B-type natriuretic peptide is markedly elevated in neonates presenting in shock secondary to left-sided obstructive heart disease and is an important diagnostic tool to aid in the rapid identification and treatment of these patients.

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