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The objective of this study was to prospectively validate the “Brief Developmental Assessment”, which is a new early recognition tool for neurodevelopmental abnormalities in children with heart disease that was developed for use by cardiac teams.
This was a prospective validation study among a representative sample of 960 pre-school children with heart disease from three United Kingdom tertiary cardiac centres who were analysed grouped into five separate age bands.
The “Brief Developmental Assessment” was successfully validated in the older four age bands, but not in the youngest representing infants under the age of 4 months, as pre-set validation thresholds were met – lower 95% confidence limit for the correlation coefficient above 0.75 – in terms of agreement of scores between two raters and with an external measure the “Mullen Scales of Early Learning”. On the basis of American Association of Pediatrics Guidelines, which state that the sensitivity and specificity of a developmental screening tool should fall between 70 and 80%, “Brief Developmental Assessment” outcome of Red meets this threshold for detection of Mullen scores >2 standard deviations below the mean.
The “Brief Developmental Assessment” may be used to improve the quality of assessment of children with heart disease. This will require a training package for users and a guide to action for abnormal results. Further research is needed to determine how best to deploy the “Brief Developmental Assessment” at different time points in children with heart disease and to determine the management strategy in infants younger than 4 months old.
Neurodevelopmental abnormalities are common in children with CHD and are the highest-priority concerns for parents and professionals following cardiac surgery in childhood. There is no additional routine monitoring of development for children with CHD in the United Kingdom; hence, neurodevelopmental concerns may be detected late, precluding early referral and intervention.
An early recognition tool – the “Brief Developmental Assessment” – was developed using quality improvement methodology involving several iterations and rounds of pilot testing. Our requirements were for a tool covering important developmental domains and practicable for use within inpatient and outpatient settings by paediatric cardiac health professionals who are non-developmental specialists, without specialised equipment and which involved direct observation, as well as parental report.
Items were included in the tool based on existing developmental measures, covering the domains of gross and fine motor skills, daily living skills, communication, socialisation, and general understanding. Items were developed for five age bands – 0–16 weeks, 17–34 weeks, 35–60 weeks, 15 months–2.9 years, and 3–4.9 years – and the final versions included a traffic light scoring system for identifying children with possible delay in any or all domains. Preliminary testing indicated excellent inter-rater reliability, an ability to detect children with a diagnosis known to be associated with developmental delay, and largely acceptable internal reliability.
We report the evolution and preliminary testing of an early recognition tool for assessing the development of children with heart disease; this was encouraging and sufficiently good to support further validation in a larger study.
Morbidity is defined as a state of being unhealthy or of experiencing an aspect of health that is “generally bad for you”, and postoperative morbidity linked to paediatric cardiac surgery encompasses a range of conditions that may impact the patient and are potential targets for quality assurance.
As part of a wider study, a multi-disciplinary group of professionals aimed to define a list of morbidities linked to paediatric cardiac surgery that was prioritised by a panel reflecting the views of both professionals from a range of disciplines and settings as well as parents and patients.
We present a set of definitions of morbidity for use in routine audit after paediatric cardiac surgery. These morbidities are ranked in priority order as acute neurological event, unplanned re-operation, feeding problems, the need for renal support, major adverse cardiac events or never events, extracorporeal life support, necrotising enterocolitis, surgical site of blood stream infection, and prolonged pleural effusion or chylothorax. It is recognised that more than one such morbidity may arise in the same patient and these are referred to as multiple morbidities, except in the case of extracorporeal life support, which is a stand-alone constellation of morbidity.
It is feasible to define a range of paediatric cardiac surgical morbidities for use in routine audit that reflects the priorities of both professionals and parents. The impact of these morbidities on the patient and family will be explored prospectively as part of a wider ongoing, multi-centre study.
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