1. Hoeffler, Christina D. MSN, APRN, NNP-BC
  2. Krenek, Michele E. MSN, APRN, FNP-C
  3. Brand, M. Colleen PhD, APRN, NNP-BC


Background: Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome is a congenital abnormality of the cardiac conduction system caused by the presence of an abnormal accessory electrical pathway between the atria and the ventricles. This can result in intermittent tachyarrhythmias such as supraventricular tachycardia. In rare occasions, sudden death may occur from atrial fibrillation with rapid ventricular conduction. Supraventricular tachycardia typically has a sudden onset and offset, classified as a paroxysmal arrhythmia. Because of the variable occurrence, Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome may go undiagnosed in the immediate newborn period.


Purpose: To highlight arrhythmia as a possible cause of sudden decompensation in infants.


Case Findings/Results: The clinical presentation of this infant is complex and a number of potential diagnoses were considered. Preexcitation on electrocardiogram resulted in the diagnosis of Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome.


Implications for Practice: Nurses caring for infants should be alert to tachycardia and irregularities of the heart rate, including those in the prenatal history, and should report them for evaluation. While all parents should be taught to watch for signs of illness, parents of infants with Wolff-Parkinson-White have additional learning needs, including recognizing early signs and symptoms of heart failure.