People often worry when they hear that their child has a heart murmur. Happily, most heart murmurs in children are perfectly normal. One such murmur is the “venous hum”.
What Causes It?
The venous hum is caused by turbulence in the jugular veins (the vessels in the neck that are very visible when people sing on television). In children, the jugular veins become narrow in a particular spot as they pass under the collar bone (clavicle), and the blood going through this narrow area makes a whooshing sound very much like water through a kink in a garden hose. This whooshing sound is the murmur we call a venous hum. It is very clear that the venous hum is not caused by any type of heart defect – it is a normal sound.
Who has them?
The venous hum may occur in as many as one fifth of all children from time to time. Commonly, a venous hum will come and go over time.
What does it mean?
It is very important to understand that the venous hum is perfectly normal. It does not suggest any type of heart disorder. Children with a venous hum can play sports just like any other normal child, and do not require special medical treatment when they go to the dentist or have other medical procedures. In fact, it is perfectly fine not to mention this murmur when one is filling out forms for insurance companies, school sports clearance, and dental visits. Finally, it is not generally necessary for a child with a venous hum to have additional visits with a cardiologist unless they are under a year of age, in which case one additional visit is sometimes recommended just because a lot of changes take place in a child’s heart over the first year of life.
What do I tell the grandparents?
Your best bet is to say that your child has a normal heart. Please feel free to share this information sheet as an explanation for anyone with whom you like.
Here are some Internet links that might be helpful. They look pretty good, but I cannot vouch for their accuracy or quality. As always with the Internet, browser beware!
American Heart Association: Innocent Murmurs
American Academy of Family Physicians - Heart Murmurs in Children--What Parents Should Know
iVillage: Are Infant Heart Murmurs Common?
The Nemours Foundation: Heart Murmurs