Objective: As surgical management of children with congenital heart disease (CHD) advanced, developmental outcome became the main focus of contemporary research. In this study, we specify the cognitive profile of children with CHD, 6 to 12 years postoperatively.
Study design: Patients with CHD (n = 43, mean age 8 years, 8 months) and healthy controls (n = 43, mean age 8 years, 11 months), were examined with an abbreviated intelligence scale (Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-3rd edition, Dutch version) and a developmental neuropsychological assessment battery (NEPSY [a developmental NEuroPSYchological assessment]).
Results: We identified significantly lower scores for the CHD group on Estimated Full Scale IQ (P < .01). Neuropsychological assessment revealed lower scores for the CHD group on the cognitive domains of Sensorimotor Functioning (P < .001), Language (P < .001), Attention and Executive Functioning (P < .05), and Memory (P < .05). Children with CHD displayed more impulsive test behavior than healthy peers. No differences on IQ or cognitive domains were found between the cyanotic and the acyanotic CHD group.
Conclusions: Six to 12 years postoperatively, children with CHD display a neuropsychological profile with mainly mild motor deficits and subtle difficulties with language tasks. Attention/executive functioning and memory also appear involved but to a lesser degree. Long-term follow-up of children with surgically corrected CHD, even when hemodynamically successful, is warranted, as they are at risk for neurodevelopmental delay at school age.