Background: Malnutrition is common in infants and children with congenital heart disease (CHD). Cardiac surgery has improved patient survival and nutritional status.
Objective: To evaluate the impact of cardiac surgery on nutritional status of pediatric patients with CHD.
Material and method: A prospective cohort study was conducted in pediatric patients with CHD, admitted for cardiac surgery at Queen Sirikit National Institute of Child Health (QSNICH), Bangkok, from August 1st, 2002 to 2003. Demographic data, cardiac and related problems were obtained before operation. Anthropometry was performed at the presentation and post cardiac surgery. Nutritional status was assessed by Z-score of weight for age (ZWA), weight for height (ZWH) and height for age (ZHA). Malnutrition was defined as Z-score <- 2 and compared pre- and post-operation using Chi-square. Paired t-test was used to compare mean Z-score and p-value < 0.05 was statistically significant.
Results: All of 161 pediatric patients with CHD undergoing cardiac surgery were 41% males and 59% females. Patients' age ranged from 1 month to 15 years. The related problems included low birth weight (28%) and feeding problem (58%). The most common CHD was ventricular septal defect (29%). The nutritional status of the patients before surgery was defined as normal 57%, malnutrition 40% and over-nutrition 3%. Malnutrition included underweight 28%, wasting 22% and stunting 16%. Post cardiac surgery, the means of ZWA, ZWH and ZHA were significantly increased and the prevalence of underweight and wasting were decreased to 17% and 6% respectively, with statistically significant from the baseline (p < 0.05).
Conclusion: Malnutrition was found in 40% of pediatric patients with CHD and cardiac surgery has a significant positive effect on weight gain and nutritional status.