Psychosocial and cognitive consequences of major neonatal surgery

J Pediatr Surg. 2011 Dec;46(12):2250-3. doi: 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2011.09.006.


Purpose: To evaluate the long-term quality of life (QOL) of patients who had undergone major neonatal surgery, the psychosocial and cognitive consequences of neonatal surgical stress were assessed when the patients reached school age.

Materials and methods: Seventy-two patients who had undergone major neonatal surgery were enrolled in this study. Their primary diseases were anorectal malformation (ARM) in 27 cases, esophageal atresia (EA) in 23, and congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) in 22. Intelligence tests using Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children III (WISC-III) or a developmental test and the Child Behavior Checklist were conducted through questionnaires and interviews with clinical psychologists.

Results: Mental retardation (MR) was apparent in 25% of EA, 20% of ARM, and 18% of CDH, significantly higher than the 2% to 3% commonly found in the general population. The clinical range (CR) of the Child Behavior Checklist was seen in 35% of EA, 59% of ARM, and 38% of CDH, which is also significantly higher than the 25% typically seen in the general population. No significant differences in MR and CR were seen among the primary diseases. The most important factors influencing MR and CR remain to be identified.

Conclusions: To ensure true quality of life after neonatal surgical stress, pediatric surgeons must consider not only physical assessments but also cognitive, emotional, and psychosocial assessments.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aftercare
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / epidemiology
  • Child Behavior Disorders / etiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / epidemiology
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Digestive System Abnormalities / psychology
  • Digestive System Abnormalities / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases / psychology
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases / surgery*
  • Intellectual Disability / epidemiology
  • Intellectual Disability / etiology*
  • Learning Disabilities / epidemiology
  • Learning Disabilities / etiology
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology*
  • Psychology
  • Quality of Life*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / etiology*
  • Surgical Procedures, Operative / psychology*