Neurodevelopment is the word used to describe how the brain makes connections that help us learn, focus, develop social skills, etc. Your brain makes these connections all the way until early adulthood, and heart defects can affect with the way the connections are made.
The American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend developmental or neuropsychological testing for all children with high-risk congenital heart disease. Even if your child is meeting all of their milestones when they are young, they may have difficulties with learning, thinking, or behavior as they age.
Evaluation is recommended for children who:
OR if your child has CHD and any of the following:
If your child does not meet the high-risk criteria, but you have concerns about their development, please discuss your concerns with your cardiologist.
Not every child who has CHD will have neurodevelopmental problems.
Some children may have delays that are noticed early on. In infants through pre-k, this may look like this:
They may need physical, speech, occupational, or feeding therapy to help with this.
Some children may only have delays showing up once they start school. Some children may have difficulties learning more complex information, where their brain has to work quickly to process it. This may look like difficulty with:
Arkansas Children’s Hospital is a member of the Cardiac Neurodevelopment Outcome Collaborative (CNOC). The Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Outcome Collaborative is a not-for-profit organization established to determine and implement best practices of neurodevelopmental and psychosocial services for individuals with pediatric and congenital heart disease and their families through clinical, quality improvement, and research initiatives.
To learn more about CNOC, visit www.cardiacneuro.org.
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