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In 2012, the American Heart Association and the American Academy of Paediatrics released a scientific statement with guidelines for the evaluation and management of the neurodevelopmental needs of children with CHD. Decades of outcome research now highlight a range of cognitive, learning, motor, and psychosocial vulnerabilities affecting individuals with CHD across the lifespan. The number of institutions with Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Follow-Up Programmes and services for CHD is growing worldwide. This manuscript provides an expanded set of neurodevelopmental evaluation strategies and considerations for professionals working with school-age children with CHD. Recommendations begin with the referral process and access to the evaluation, the importance of considering medical risk factors (e.g., genetic disorders, neuroimaging), and the initial clinical interview with the family. The neurodevelopmental evaluation should take into account both family and patient factors, including the child/family’s primary language, country of origin, and other cultural factors, as well as critical stages in development that place the child at higher risk. Domains of assessment are reviewed with emphasis on target areas in need of evaluation based on current outcome research with CHD. Finally, current recommendations are made for assessment batteries using a brief core battery and an extended comprehensive clinical battery. Consistent use of a recommended assessment battery will increase opportunities for research collaborations, and ultimately help improve the quality of care for families and children with CHD.
This paper provides specific guidelines for the neurodevelopmental evaluation of children aged birth through 5 years with complex congenital heart disease. There is wide recognition that children with congenital heart disease are at high risk for neurodevelopmental impairments that are first apparent in infancy and often persist as children mature. Impairments among children with complex congenital heart disease cross developmental domains and affect multiple functional abilities. The guidelines provided are derived from the substantial body of research generated over the past 30 years describing the characteristic developmental profiles and the long-term trajectories of children surviving with complex congenital heart conditions. The content and the timing of the guidelines are consistent with the 2012 American Heart Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics scientific statement documenting the need for ongoing developmental monitoring and assessment from infancy through adolescence. The specific guidelines offered in this article were developed by a multidisciplinary clinical research team affiliated with the Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Outcome Collaborative, a not-for-profit organisation established to determine and implement best neurodevelopmental practices for children with congenital heart disease. The guidelines are designed for use in clinical and research applications and offer an abbreviated core protocol and an extended version that expands the scope of the evaluation. The guidelines emphasise the value of early risk identification, use of evidence-based assessment instruments, consideration of family and cultural preferences, and the importance of providing multidimensional community-based services to remediate risk.
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