Objective: To describe the gross motor development of infants who had undergone cardiac surgery in the neonatal or early infant period.
Methods: Gross motor performance was assessed when infants were 4, 8, 12, and 16 months of age with the Alberta Infant Motor Scale. This scale is a discriminative gross motor outcome measure that may be used to assess infants from birth to independent walking. Infants were videotaped during the assessment and were later evaluated by a senior paediatric physiotherapist who was blinded to each infant's medical history, including previous clinical assessments. Demographic, diagnostic, surgical, critical care, and medical variables were considered with respect to gross motor outcomes.
Results: A total of 50 infants who underwent elective or emergency cardiac surgery at less than or up to 8 weeks of age, between July 2006 and January 2008, were recruited to this study and were assessed at 4 months of age. Approximately, 92%, 84%, and 94% of study participants returned for assessment at 8, 12, and 16 months of age, respectively. Study participants had delayed gross motor development across all study time points; 62% of study participants did not have typical gross motor development during the first year of life. Hospital length of stay was associated with gross motor outcome across infancy.
Conclusion: Active gross motor surveillance of all infants undergoing early cardiac surgery is recommended. Further studies of larger congenital heart disease samples are required, as are longitudinal studies that determine the significance of these findings at school age and beyond.