Somatic Development in Children with Congenital Heart Defects

J Pediatr. 2018 Jan:192:136-143.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2017.09.059.


Objectives: Somatic development is impaired in children with congenital heart defects (CHDs), and head circumference seems to be a strong predictor of neurodevelopmental prognosis. The aim of this study was to generate up-to-date reference values for the somatic development (head circumference, body weight, and length/height) of children with CHDs.

Study design: Our study population consisted of all patients included in the PAN study (Prävalenz angeborener Herzfehler bei Neugeborenen in Deutschland), which was conducted prospectively over a 3-year study period by the Competence Network for Congenital Heart Defects. All children with mild, moderate, and severe CHDs born in 2006-2009 in Germany were enrolled. For computing of z-scores, only children with the following characteristics were included: appropriate for gestational age, nonsyndromic disease, term or post-term delivery, and no cardiac surgery.

Results: There were 2818 patients included. New z-scores for the described somatic measures of children with mild, moderate, and severe CHDs were computed. Comparisons with the KiGGS study (Gesundheit von Kindern und Jugendlichen in Deutschland) and the Berlin Longitudinal Study revealed significantly lower measurements for all measures-most notably in children with severe CHDs and/or cardiac surgery. In our cohort, no catch-up growth was seen after cardiac surgery.

Conclusion: Children with severe CHDs demonstrated the most abnormal pattern in growth, including head circumference before and after cardiac surgery, which is indicative of accompanying brain pathology unrelated to operative injury.

Keywords: congenital heart defects; microcephaly; somatic development; z-score.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Body Height / physiology*
  • Body Weight / physiology*
  • Cephalometry
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Head / growth & development*
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / physiopathology*
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / surgery
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Linear Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reference Values