Preschool Neurodevelopmental Outcomes in Children with Congenital Heart Disease

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To describe preschool neurodevelopmental outcomes of children with complex congenital heart disease (CHD), who were evaluated as part of a longitudinal cardiac neurodevelopmental follow-up program, as recommended by the American Heart Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, and identify predictors of neurodevelopmental outcomes in these children.

Study design

Children with CHD meeting the American Heart Association/American Academy of Pediatrics high-risk criteria for neurodevelopmental delay were evaluated at 4-5 years of age. Testing included standardized neuropsychological measures. Parents completed measures of child functioning. Scores were compared by group (single ventricle [1V]; 2 ventricles [2V]; CHD plus known genetic condition) to test norms and classified as: normal (within 1 SD of mean); at risk (1-2 SD from mean); and impaired (>2 SD from mean).


Data on 102 patients were analyzed. Neurodevelopmental scores did not differ based on cardiac anatomy (1V vs 2V); both groups scored lower than norms on fine motor and adaptive behavior skills, but were within 1 SD of norms. Patients with genetic conditions scored significantly worse than 1V and 2V groups and test norms on most measures.


Children with CHD and genetic conditions are at greatest neurodevelopmental risk. Deficits in children with CHD without genetic conditions were mild and may not be detected without formal longitudinal testing. Parents and providers need additional education regarding the importance of developmental follow-up for children with CHD.

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