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COVID-19 has markedly impacted the provision of neurodevelopmental care. In response, the Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Outcome Collaborative established a Task Force to assess the telehealth practices of cardiac neurodevelopmental programmes during COVID-19, including adaptation of services, test protocols and interventions, and perceived obstacles, disparities, successes, and training needs.
A 47-item online survey was sent to 42 Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Outcome Collaborative member sites across North America within a 3-week timeframe (22 July to 11 August 2020) to collect cross-sectional data on practices.
Of the 30 participating sites (71.4% response rate), all were providing at least some clinical services at the time of the survey and 24 sites (80%) reported using telehealth. All but one of these sites were offering new telehealth services in response to COVID-19, with the most striking change being the capacity to offer new intervention services for children and their caregivers. Only a third of sites were able to carry out standardised, performance-based, neurodevelopmental testing with children and adolescents using telehealth, and none had completed comparable testing with infants and toddlers. Barriers associated with language, child ability, and access to technology were identified as contributing to disparities in telehealth access.
Telehealth has enabled continuation of at least some cardiac neurodevelopmental services during COVID-19, despite the challenges experienced by providers, children, families, and health systems. The Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Outcome Collaborative provides a unique platform for sharing challenges and successes across sites, as we continue to shape an evidence-based, efficient, and consistent approach to the care of individuals with CHD.
Infants who require open heart surgery are at increased risk for developmental delays including gross motor impairments which may have implications for later adaptive skills and cognitive performance. We sought to evaluate the feasibility and efficacy of a tummy time intervention to improve motor skill development in infants after cardiac surgery.
Infants <4 months of age who underwent cardiac surgery were randomly assigned to tummy time with or without outpatient reinforcement or standard of care prior to hospital discharge. The Alberta Infant Motor Scale (AIMS) was administered to each infant prior to and 3 months after discharge. Groups were compared, and the association between parent-reported tummy time at home and change in motor scores at follow-up was examined.
Parents of infants (n = 64) who had cardiac surgery at a median age of 5 days were randomly assigned to tummy time instruction (n = 20), tummy time + outpatient reinforcement (n = 21) or standard of care (n = 23). Forty-nine (77%) returned for follow-up. At follow-up, reported daily tummy time was not significantly different between groups (p = 0.17). Fifteen infants had <15 minutes of tummy time daily. Infants who received >15 minutes of tummy time daily had a significantly greater improvement in motor scores than infants with <15 minutes of tummy time daily (p = 0.01).
In infants following cardiac surgery, <15 minutes of tummy time daily is associated with increased motor skill impairment. Further research is needed to elucidate the best strategies to optimise parental compliance with tummy time recommendations.
In 2018, the Neurodevelopmental and Psychosocial Interventions Working Group of the Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Outcome Collaborative convened through support from an R13 grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to survey the state of neurodevelopmental and psychosocial intervention research in CHD and to propose a slate of critical questions and investigations required to improve outcomes for this growing population of survivors and their families. Prior research, although limited, suggests that individualised developmental care interventions delivered early in life are beneficial for improving a range of outcomes including feeding, motor and cognitive development, and physiological regulation. Interventions to address self-regulatory, cognitive, and social-emotional challenges have shown promise in other medical populations, yet their applicability and effectiveness for use in individuals with CHD have not been examined. To move this field of research forward, we must strive to better understand the impact of neurodevelopmental and psychosocial intervention within the CHD population including adapting existing interventions for individuals with CHD. We must examine the ways in which dedicated cardiac neurodevelopmental follow-up programmes bolster resilience and support children and families through the myriad transitions inherent to the experience of living with CHD. And, we must ensure that interventions are person-/family-centred, inclusive of individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds as well as those with genetic/medical comorbidities, and proactive in their efforts to include individuals who are at highest risk but who may be traditionally less likely to participate in intervention trials.
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.
Neurodevelopmental impairment is increasingly recognised as a potentially disabling outcome of CHD and formal evaluation is recommended for high-risk patients. However, data are lacking regarding the proportion of eligible children who actually receive neurodevelopmental evaluation, and barriers to follow-up are unclear. We examined the prevalence and risk factors associated with failure to attend neurodevelopmental follow-up clinic after infant cardiac surgery.
Survivors of infant (<1 year) cardiac surgery at our institution (4/2011-3/2014) were included. Socio-demographic and clinical characteristics were evaluated in neurodevelopmental clinic attendees and non-attendees in univariate and multivariable analyses.
A total of 552 patients were included; median age at surgery was 2.4 months, 15% were premature, and 80% had moderate–severe CHD. Only 17% returned for neurodevelopmental evaluation, with a median age of 12.4 months. In univariate analysis, non-attendees were older at surgery, had lower surgical complexity, fewer non-cardiac anomalies, shorter hospital stay, and lived farther from the surgical center. Non-attendee families had lower income, and fewer were college graduates or had private insurance. In multivariable analysis, lack of private insurance remained independently associated with non-attendance (adjusted odds ratio 1.85, p=0.01), with a trend towards significance for distance from surgical center (adjusted odds ratio 2.86, p=0.054 for ⩾200 miles).
The majority of infants with CHD at high risk for neurodevelopmental dysfunction evaluated in this study are not receiving important neurodevelopmental evaluation. Efforts to remove financial/insurance barriers, increase access to neurodevelopmental clinics, and better delineate other barriers to receipt of neurodevelopmental evaluation are needed.
Clinical databases in congenital and paediatric cardiac care provide a foundation for quality improvement, research, policy evaluations and public reporting. Structured audits verifying data integrity allow database users to be confident in these endeavours. We report on the initial audit of the Pediatric Cardiac Critical Care Consortium (PC4) clinical registry.
Materials and methods
Participants reviewed the entire registry to determine key fields for audit, and defined major and minor discrepancies for the audited variables. In-person audits at the eight initial participating centres were conducted during a 12-month period. The data coordinating centre randomly selected intensive care encounters for review at each site. The audit consisted of source data verification and blinded chart abstraction, comparing findings by the auditors with those entered in the database. We also assessed completeness and timeliness of case submission. Quantitative evaluation of completeness, accuracy, and timeliness of case submission is reported.
We audited 434 encounters and 29,476 data fields. The aggregate overall accuracy was 99.1%, and the major discrepancy rate was 0.62%. Across hospitals, the overall accuracy ranged from 96.3 to 99.5%, and the major discrepancy rate ranged from 0.3 to 0.9%; seven of the eight hospitals submitted >90% of cases within 1 month of hospital discharge. There was no evidence for selective case omission.
Based on a rigorous audit process, data submitted to the PC4 clinical registry appear complete, accurate, and timely. The collaborative will maintain ongoing efforts to verify the integrity of the data to promote science that advances quality improvement efforts.
The current study examined whether a traditional exposure-based treatment for blood-injection-injury (BII) phobia would be effective at reducing disgust responses to BII stimuli and whether the addition of modules targeting disgust would provide incremental efficacy. Participants, many of whom reported subclinical BII phobia symptoms, underwent one of two single-session exposure protocols, one targeting fear alone, and the other targeting both fear and disgust. Both treatments consisted of education components (fear-only or fear-disgust) and in vivo exposure (fear-only or fear-disgust). Both the fear-only and the fear-disgust treatment groups significantly decreased fear and avoidance behaviour toward BII stimuli over time. The two groups also experienced similar reductions in disgust responses to BII-related stimuli and global as well as domain-specific disgust sensitivity. The effect sizes indicated that the fear-disgust group evidenced greater reduction in symptoms than did the fear-only group. The implications of the results for models of phobia maintenance and treatment are discussed.
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