Pediatric myocarditis is inflammation and weakness of the heart muscle in an infant or young child.
Myocarditis is an uncommon disorder. In children it is usually caused by viral infections that reach the heart, such as the influenza (flu) virus, Coxsackie virus, and adenovirus. However, it may also occur during or after other viral or bacterial infections such as polio, rubella, Lyme disease, and others.
When you have an infection, your body's immune system produces special cells that release certain chemicals to fight off disease. If the infection affects your heart, the disease-fighting cells enter the heart. However, the chemicals they produce can damage the heart muscle, causing it to become thick and swollen. This leads to symptoms of heart failure. In addition, the virus or bacteria may damage the heart muscle.
Other causes of pediatric myocarditis include:
Pediatric myocarditis tends to be more severe in newborns and young infants than in children over age 2.
Freedman SB, Haladyn JK, Floh A, Kirsh JA, Taylor G, Thull-Freedman J. Pediatric myocarditis: emergency department clinical findings and diagnostic evaluation. Pediatrics. 2007 Dec;120(6):1278-85.
Behrman RE. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: WB Saunders; 2007.
Park MK, Troxler RG. Pediatric Cardiology for Practitioners. 5th ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby, Inc; 2008.
Schwartz SM, Wessel DL. Medical cardiovascular support in acute viral myocarditis in children. Guidelines for the Treatment of Myocarditis in Infants and Children and Proceedings of the 2005 Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Symposium. Pediatr Crit Care Med. 7(6) Supplement:S12-S16, November 2006.
© 2011 University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). All rights reserved.
UMMC is a member of the University of Maryland Medical System,
22 S. Greene Street, Baltimore, MD 21201. TDD: 1-800-735-2258 or 1.866.408.6885