Neurodevelopmental difficulties in children with congenital heart disease

What are congenital heart diseases?

Congenital heart disease are alterations in either the structure or functionality of the heart with which some babies are born.
The exact causes are not yet known, but it is considered that there are genetic factors that have a lot to do with it.

In recent years, medical science has developed increasingly successful surgical procedures to repair these alterations; however, some of the babies with congenital heart disease also have difficulties in psychomotor development (linguistic, motor and  socio - affective skills).

This may occur, in part, because babies spend long periods of time in a clinic and therefore do not receive adequate stimulation; or because the baby's medical procedures (such as surgeries)  require  intubation  and this could limit his or her language development .

The main difficulties caused by congenital heart disease::

In the scientific literature, it has been found that the two areas in which babies with congenital heart disease  tend to present a slowdown or greater difficulty are the linguistic and motor areas, and, as regards the former, the difference with other children may be more marked  by what we mentioned above.

In this area, difficulties usually arise in the appearance of speech (which may be slightly delayed) or in difficulties in understanding phrases or words (receptive aspect of language) as well as in expressing oneself (expressive aspect).

However, there is also the possibility that the child will develop normally  and this possibility increases when the child receives adequate stimulation at home.

Difficulties in the patient’s motor development:

As for the area of ​​motor development, this includes: fine motor skills, which refers to the use of small muscles (for example, the ones we need to grasp an object or write), and gross motor skills, which refer to the muscles that They allow us to stand up, sit down, turn our heads, etc.

Children with congenital heart disease may have greater difficulties in terms of fine motor skills, which is evident when the child begins to go to school.

It is important to add that the more stimulation the child receives during his first months of life, the greater the probability that his development will be adequate in each of  these  areas.