To assess cohort and individual neurodevelopmental stability in children with congenital heart disease across childhood.
The Reachout Study is a cohort study at the University Children's Hospital Zurich. Data from 148 children with congenital heart disease who underwent cardiopulmonary bypass surgery and 1-, 4-, and 6-year neurodevelopmental assessment were analyzed using mixed models.
Cognitive and motor functions of the total cohort improved over time (cognitive: P = .01; motor: P <.001). The prevalence of children with cognitive impairment at age 6 years was 22.3%. Socioeconomic status showed a significant interaction with age on cognitive and motor development (cognitive: P <.001; motor: P = .001): higher socioeconomic status was associated with better neurodevelopmental outcome over time. Weight and head circumference at birth showed a significant interaction with age on motor development (weight: P = .048; head: P = .006). The correlation between test scores at different ages was weak to moderate (cognition: age 1-6 years: rho = 0.20, age 4-6 years: rho = 0.56, motor: age 1-6 years: rho = 0.23, age 4-6 years: rho = 0.50).
Children with congenital heart disease show a mild improvement in cognitive and motor functions within the first 6 years of life, particularly those with higher socioeconomic status and larger head circumference and weight at birth. However, individual stability is moderate at best. Therefore, follow-up assessments are crucial to target therapeutic intervention effectively.