Psychological Distress in Children with Surgically Corrected Congenital Heart Disease

Author(s): Amalia Fagarasan, Flavia-Cristina Al-Akel, Andreea Cerghit-Paler, Brad Laura, Liliana Gozar

Purpose/Aim/Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate the neuropsychological modifications and intellectual functioning parameters (such as predictors of school performance – Intelligence quotient - IQ) of children with surgically corrected congenital heart defects. By investigating these changes, we might be able to develop a screening tool which facilitates the early detection of psychological distress, optimizes psychological therapy.

Methods: The study was conducted in the Paediatric Cardiology Clinic of Tîrgu Mure?, Romania, between 2016-2018, on 86 children with congenital heart disease (CHD), aged 6 to 17 years old, who have undergone surgical repair - compared to 102 healthy controls, matched by age. The study tested the hypothesis that children with CHD have lower intellectual function than the control group and analysed behavioural outcomes for these patients. Exclusion criteria: children aged less than 6 years old, confirmed genetic syndromes and a family history of psychiatric disorders.

Results: 59.3% of children in the eligible group were male, with a median age of 11.1 years ± 3.2 SD. The average IQ of the patients with cyanotic CHD was 84.09, while the control group had an average IQ of 91.10. Analysis of the psychological profile indicated that 33.7% of children with surgically corrected CHD had anxiety, and 11.6% of them had attention deficit disorder.

Conclusions: Children with surgically corrected cyanotic CHD had a lower IQ than the control group. Anxiety and attention deficit disorder were more frequent in children with CHD.

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