Children and adolescents with congenital heart disease should avoid body piercing

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Children and teenagers with congenital heart disease should be strongly discouraged from getting a tattoo or piercing their ears or other body parts, because it could lead to a potentially deadly infection of the heart called endocarditis.

Infective endocarditis occurs when bacteria or fungi attach and begin to grow on the valves of the heart. If left untreated, it can lead to a fatal destruction of heart muscle.

Most people are not aware that they should talk to their doctor before tattooing or piercing their body.

Body art in the form of tattoos and piercing has become increasingly popular among children and teenagers.

Most experts today strongly discourage all forms of body art. For those who cannot be dissuaded, the recommendation is to give antibiotics prior to tattooing or piercing, “with strong advice for prompt treatment of any signs of subsequent infection”.