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Newborn Heart Surgery May Lead to Motor, Cognitive Delays

Cognitive and motor function consistently lower in 1- to 3-year-olds who have had heart surgery

FRIDAY, March 19 (HealthDay News) -- Babies who undergo heart surgery in early infancy are more likely to experience cognitive and motor delays as very young children, according to a review published online March 15 in Pediatrics.

Suzanne H. Snookes, from the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues reviewed eight studies examining cognitive and motor outcomes in children who had surgery for congenital heart disease during the first six months of life. All the studies assessed motor and cognitive ability at between 1 and 3 years of age.

The researchers found that at about 1 year of age, the weighted mean Mental Development Index was 90.3 and the Psychomotor Development Index was 78.1. For children ages 1 to 3 years, all but one of the studies reported cognitive outcomes within one standard deviation of the test mean. Motor outcomes were usually worse: five studies reported motor outcomes within one standard deviation of the expected outcomes, and six reported scores that were between one and two standard deviations from the expected mean. Insufficient data were available for children older than 3 years, according to the authors.

"Within a subgroup of infants receiving cardiac surgery at <6 months of age, cognitive and motor developmental domains were below the expected mean at all ages studied," Snookes and colleagues conclude. "Our review has shown that at approximately 1 year of age, the risk of motor delay was greater than the risk of cognitive disability."

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