Are congenital heart defects connected to more severe attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder?: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Medicine (Baltimore). 2023 Nov 24;102(47):e36193. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000036193.


Background: Congenital heart defects (CHDs) are the most common cause of birth defect-related infant morbidity and mortality, affecting 1% of 40,000 births per year in the United States. On the other side, the etiology of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is multifactorial. Multiple studies have found that cardiac surgery patients have higher morbidity of having this disorder. Many studies have investigated the prevalence of ADHD in different subtypes of CHD, but few have focused on the severity of ADHD symptoms. Thus, we conducted this systematic review and meta-analysis to investigate the severity of ADHD symptoms in CHD patients.

Methods: We searched PubMed, Embase, Scopus, and Web of Science were searched from inception to March 6, 2023 without any restrictions. We included observational studies published in English language that evaluated burden of symptom of ADHD in CHD patients. Moreover, the standardized mean difference (SMD) for continuous outcomes with 95% confidence interval (CI) was pooled. P-values <.05 are considered as significant, and we performed all statistical analyses using RevMan software Version 5.4.1.

Results: Eight studies were included in our review with a total number of 120,158 patients. CHD was associated with a statistically significant increase in both ADHD index T score and ADHD Hyperactivity-Impulsivity Subscale (informant) with (SMD = 0.65, 95% CI [0.40, 0.90], P < .00001, I2 = 81%) and (SMD = 0.16, 95% CI [0.04, 0.28], P = .008, I2 = 0%). Regarding ADHD Inattention Subscale (informant), the pooled data showed that a significant increase of this score in the CHD group (SMD = 0.25, 95% CI [0.13, 0.37], P < .001, I2 = 0%), and ADHD Combined Score (informant) showed a significant increase of this score in the CHD group (SMD = 0.23, 95% CI [0.11, 0.35], P = .0002, I2 = 0%).

Conclusion: Our study revealed a strong association between CHD and not only ADHD, but also the severity of ADHD, making early diagnosis of ADHD in children with CHD a mandatory step in the clinical evaluation practice to improve these children on both clinical and psychological aspects.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity* / complications
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity* / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Cognition
  • Heart Defects, Congenital* / complications
  • Heart Defects, Congenital* / epidemiology
  • Humans