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First steps to a clinical research unit for developmental research in paediatric cardiology: conception and progress of the LEADER project (Long Term Early Development Research) in CHD

  • Constanze Pfitzer (a1) (a2) (a3), Hannah Ferentzi (a1), Lisa-Maria Rosenthal (a1) (a2), Peter Kramer (a1), Felix Berger (a1) (a3) (a4) and Katharina R. L. Schmitt (a1) (a3)...



We developed the Long-term Early Development Research (LEADER) project to investigate the development of children with CHD and/or after cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Both populations are at risk for delays in motor, cognitive, and language development. However, few studies to date have investigated the longitudinal development in these children.


To establish a clinical research unit, we planned three studies: a cross-sectional study in children after cardiopulmonary resuscitation (LEADER-REA Pilot Study), a longitudinal study in children after cardiopulmonary resuscitation, with a focus on evaluating various biomarkers as predictors for developmental outcome (LEADER-CPR study), and a longitudinal study in children with ventricular septal defect, tetralogy of Fallot, or transposition of the great arteries after cardiac surgery (LEADER-CHD study).


Implementation of all three LEADER studies was successful and study protocols were conducted as planned. Findings from the LEADER-REA Pilot study have been recently published and data collection for both prospective trials is ongoing. Descriptive analysis of the first 20 assessments of the LEADER-CHD study showed no severe deficits in overall cognitive, motor, and language developments in the children.


Children with CHD and/or after cardiopulmonary resuscitation are at risk for developmental delay. Therefore, a detailed developmental assessment is necessary as a pre-requisite for individual developmental support. Our LEADER project has been shown to be feasible in a clinical setting and is the first step towards the establishment of a clinical research unit in our clinic with a focus on longitudinal research.


Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Constanze Pfitzer, MD, Department of Congenital Heart Disease – Pediatric Cardiology, Deutsches Herzzentrum Berlin, Augustenburger Platz 13353 Berlin, Germany. Tel: +49 30 4593 2849; Fax: +49 30 4593 2900; E-mail:


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The authors Constanze Pfitzer and Hannah Ferentzi both contributed equally to this publication.

The LEADER project was registered with the German Clinical Trials Register ( (DRKS-ID: DRKS00013639 and DRKS00011006).



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First steps to a clinical research unit for developmental research in paediatric cardiology: conception and progress of the LEADER project (Long Term Early Development Research) in CHD

  • Constanze Pfitzer (a1) (a2) (a3), Hannah Ferentzi (a1), Lisa-Maria Rosenthal (a1) (a2), Peter Kramer (a1), Felix Berger (a1) (a3) (a4) and Katharina R. L. Schmitt (a1) (a3)...


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