To investigate whether children with varying severity of congenital heart defects (CHDs) have a higher risk of internalizing or externalizing emotional problems at 36 months of age. In addition, to analyze whether a history of emotional problems at 6 or 18 months of age increases the risk of emotional problems at 36 months in children with CHDs.
Prospective data from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study, conducted by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, was linked with a nationwide CHD registry, and 175 children with CHDs were identified in a cohort of 44,104 children aged 36 months. Maternal reports on child characteristics were assessed by questionnaires at child age 6, 18, and 36 months.
Children with CHDs did not have elevated scores on internalizing or externalizing problems at 36 months of age compared with controls. Not even the children with CHDs with a history of emotional problems at age 6 or 18 months showed an increased risk.
The absence of risk of emotional problems at 36 months of age in children with CHDs could be a consequence of the completion of the most extensive medical treatment.