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To evaluate clinical outcome of patients with Ellis-van Creveld syndrome (EVC) in whom congenital heart disease (CHD) repair was delayed intentionally to reduce the risk of postoperative respiratory morbidity and mortality.This retrospective review of 51 EVC c.1886+5G>T homozygotes born between 2005 and 2014 focused on 18 subjects who underwent surgery for CHD, subdivided into early (mean, 1.3 months) vs delayed (mean, 50.1 months) repair.Growth trajectories differed between control subjects and patients with EVC, and CHD was associated with slower weight gain. Relative to controls, infants with EVC had a 40%-75% higher respiratory rates (independent of CHD) accompanied by signs of compensated respiratory acidosis. Blood gases and respiratory rates approached normal values by age 4 years. Hemodynamically significant CHD was present in 23 children, 18 (78%) of whom underwent surgical repair. Surgery was performed at 1.3 ± 1.3 months for children born between 2005 and 2009 (n = 9) and 50.1 ± 40.2 months (P = .009) for children born between 2010 and 2014 (n = 9). The latter had shorter postoperative mechanical ventilation (1.1 ± 2.4 days vs 49.6 ± 57.1 days; P = .075), shorter intensive care duration of stay (16 ± 24 days vs 48.6 ± 44.2 days; P = .155), and no postoperative tracheostomies (vs 60%; P = .028) or deaths (vs 44%; P = .082).Among children with EVC and possibly other short-rib thoracic dysplasias, delayed surgical repair of CHD reduces postoperative morbidity and improves survival. Respiratory rate serves as a simple indicator for optimal timing of surgical repair.