Prematurity and Congenital Heart Disease: A Contemporary Review

Neoreviews. 2022 Jul 1;23(7):e472-e485. doi: 10.1542/neo.23-7-e472.


Congenital heart disease (CHD) is the most commonly reported birth defect in newborns. Neonates with CHD are more likely to be born prematurely, and a higher proportion of preterm neonates have CHD than their term counterparts. The implications of preterm birth on the cardiac and noncardiac organ systems are vast and require special management considerations. The feasibility of surgical interventions in preterm neonates is frequently limited by patient size and delicacy of immature cardiac tissues. Thus, special care must be taken when considering the appropriate timing and type of cardiac intervention. Despite improvements in neonatal cardiac surgical outcomes, preterm and early term gestational ages and low birthweight remain important risk factors for in-hospital mortality. Understanding the risks of early delivery of neonates with prenatally diagnosed CHD may help guide perioperative management in neonates who are born preterm. In this review, we will describe the risks and benefits of early delivery, postnatal cardiac and noncardiac evaluation and management, surgical considerations, overall outcomes, and future directions regarding optimization of perinatal evaluation and management of fetuses and preterm and early term neonates with CHD.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Heart Defects, Congenital* / diagnosis
  • Heart Defects, Congenital* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases* / therapy
  • Pregnancy
  • Premature Birth*