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Parents of children with CHD face several barriers when trying to access the services needed to support their child’s development. In fact, current developmental follow-up practices may not identify developmental challenges in a timely manner and important opportunities for interventions may be lost. This study aimed to explore the perspectives of parents of children and adolescents with CHD with respect to developmental follow-up in Canada.
Interpretive description was used as a methodological approach for this qualitative study. Parents of children aged 5–15 years with complex CHD were eligible. Semi-structured interviews that aimed to explore their perspectives regarding their child’s developmental follow-up were conducted.
Fifteen parents of children with CHD were recruited for this study. They expressed that the lack of systematic and responsive developmental follow-up services and limited access to resources to support their child’s development placed an undue burden on their families, and as a result, they needed to assume new roles as case managers or advocates to address these limitations. This additional burden resulted in a high level of parental stress, which, in turn, affected the parent–child relationship and siblings.
The limitations of the current Canadian developmental follow-up practices put undue pressure on the parents of children with complex CHD. The parents stressed the importance of implementing a universal and systematic approach to developmental follow-up to allow for the timely identification of challenges, enabling the initiation of interventions and supports and promoting more positive parent–child relationships.
Testosterone (T) and cortisol (C) are steroid hormones that have been argued to play opposing roles in shaping physical and behavioral development in humans. While there is evidence linking T and C to different memory processes during adulthood, it remains unclear how the relative levels of T and C (TC ratio) may influence brain and behavioral development, whether they are influenced by sex of the child, and whether or not they occur as a result of stable changes in brain structure (organizational changes), as opposed to transient changes in brain function (activational changes). As such, we tested for associations among TC ratio, cortico-hippocampal structure, and standardized tests of executive, verbal, and visuo-spatial function in a longitudinal sample of typically developing 4–22-year-old children and adolescents. We found greater TC ratios to be associated with greater coordinated growth (i.e. covariance) between the hippocampus and cortical thickness in several areas primarily devoted to visual function. In addition, there was an age-related association between TC ratio and parieto-hippocampal covariance, as well as a sex-specific association between TC ratio and prefrontal-hippocampal covariance. Differences in brain structure related to TC ratio were in turn associated with lower verbal/executive function, as well as greater attention in tests of visuo-spatial abilities. These results support the notion that TC ratio may shift the balance between top-down (cortex to hippocampus) and bottom-up (hippocampus to cortex) processes, impairing more complex, cortical-based tasks and optimizing visuospatial tasks relying primarily on the hippocampus.
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