November 16, 2015

Children, heart disease, and IQ

Treatment for congenital heart disease during infancy may result in cognitive and attentional deficits during adolescence and young adulthood, Vanderbilt researchers have found.

by Philip Ko


Children with serious congenital heart disease (CHD) requiring treatment during infancy may have cognitive and attentional deficits that are apparent during adolescence and young adulthood, according to a new Vanderbilt study published in the journal Child Neuropsychology.

Lori Jordan, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues identified 18 teens and young adults (ages 11-22 years) who required surgical treatments for CHD during infancy, and compared them to their healthy siblings on standard measures of IQ and attention.

Individuals with CHD performed worse than their healthy siblings on standardized measures of general IQ, particularly working memory and processing speed, and self-reported measures of attention. There were some differences in the results when the cases of CHD were compared to national standard test scores, or norms, instead of their siblings’ performance.

Since comparisons to siblings potentially offer better control over socioeconomic and environmental factors, the study authors suggest that comparisons with norms may underestimate the degree to which IQ and attention is affected by CHD that required early treatment.

The study was supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (CTSA award number TR000445.)

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