Nutrition and growth in congenital heart disease: a challenge in children

Curr Opin Cardiol. 2013 Mar;28(2):122-9. doi: 10.1097/HCO.0b013e32835dd005.


Purpose of review: Growth failure secondary to feeding problems after complex neonatal cardiac surgery is well documented, but not well understood. The purpose of this review is to describe feeding and growth pattern in children with congenital heart defects.

Recent findings: Nearly half of the infants with univentricular heart defects require supplementation with nasogastric or gastrostomy tube at discharge from neonatal surgery. Feeding challenges contribute to parental stress, and persist beyond infancy. These infants are 'stunted' with both weight and height being below normal. Nearly a quarter of these infants meet the definition of 'failure to thrive' in the first year of life. Short stature is a significant problem for many of these children, and has an impact on neurodevelopmental outcomes. A structured nutritional program can have a positive impact on growth in the interstage period prior to the superior cavopulmonary connection.

Summary: Optimizing nutritional intake has been targeted as a key component of the National Pediatric Cardiology Quality Improvement Collaborative. This initiative has enabled the development of best practices that have the potential to mitigate poor growth in children with congenital heart defects.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Energy Intake
  • Enteral Nutrition
  • Failure to Thrive / etiology*
  • Failure to Thrive / physiopathology
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / complications*
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / physiopathology*
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / surgery
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Malnutrition / complications*
  • Norwood Procedures
  • Nutritional Support* / methods
  • Nutritional Support* / standards
  • Parents / psychology
  • Preoperative Care
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress, Psychological