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Infants with prenatally diagnosed CHD are at high risk for adverse outcomes owing to multiple physiologic and psychosocial factors. Lack of immediate physical postnatal contact because of rapid initiation of medical therapy impairs maternal–infant bonding. On the basis of expected physiology, maternal–infant bonding may be safe for select cardiac diagnoses.
This is a single-centre study to assess safety of maternal–infant bonding in prenatal CHD.
In total, 157 fetuses with prenatally diagnosed CHD were reviewed. On the basis of cardiac diagnosis, 91 fetuses (58%) were prenatally approved for bonding and successfully bonded, 38 fetuses (24%) were prenatally approved but deemed not suitable for bonding at delivery, and 28 (18%) were not prenatally approved to bond. There were no complications attributable to bonding. Those who successfully bonded were larger in weight (3.26 versus 2.6 kg, p<0.001) and at later gestation (39 versus 38 weeks, p<0.001). Those unsuccessful at bonding were more likely to have been delivered via Caesarean section (74 versus 49%, p=0.011) and have additional non-cardiac diagnoses (53 versus 29%, p=0.014). There was no significant difference regarding the need for cardiac intervention before hospital discharge. Infants who bonded had shorter hospital (7 versus 26 days, p=0.02) and ICU lengths of stay (5 versus 23 days, p=0.002) and higher survival (98 versus 76%, p<0.001).
Fetal echocardiography combined with a structured bonding programme can permit mothers and infants with select types of CHD to successfully bond before ICU admission and intervention.
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