Health

Even mild heart defects may affect kids in school

These students may not be getting sufficient special education support

Children born with heart defects, even minor ones, perform worse than other pupils on third-grade reading and maths tests, a new study has found. (Pupils in third grade are eight to nine years old.)

Pupils with a congenital heart defect, regardless of how severe their condition, had 24 per cent higher odds of not meeting standards in either reading or maths, compared to children without the condition.

"While it was not surprising to see this finding in children with severe heart defects, it was a surprise to see that children with heart defects that are often considered mild may likewise have challenges in school," said lead author Matthew Oster from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.

"Parents and teachers should be aware that children with heart defects may benefit from early recognition and evaluation for potential learning challenges," he said.

Children with critical congenital heart defects, such as hypoplastic left heart syndrome or transposition of the great arteries, who required surgery in infancy, are known to be at high risk for poor neurocognitive outcomes in childhood, Dr Oster and his colleagues wrote in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality Outcomes.

Parents and teachers should be aware that children with heart defects may benefit from early recognition and evaluation for potential learning challenges.Dr Matthew Oster from Emory University School of Medicine

This "subset" of children with severe heart defects typically undergoes intensive, and expensive, screening for these cognitive problems, but performing this kind of screening on all children with congenital heart defects is not feasible, the authors noted. - REUTERS

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