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Developmental Outcomes After Pediatric Heart Transplantation

The Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2008
DOI: 10.1016/j.healun.2008.07.012
  • Education
  • Mathematics
  • Medicine


Background Pediatric heart transplantation has now been successfully performed for more than 20 years. As survival rates have improved, more attention is now focused on long-term outcomes. Methods This report reviews the literature on developmental outcomes after pediatric heart transplantation. Results Pediatric patients undergoing heart transplantation generally can be expected to have developmental outcomes in the low-normal range, consistent with outcomes seen in other children with complex congenital heart disease requiring surgical intervention. When these children reach school age, or return to school, most can be expected to function reasonably well in mainstream school settings. A significant minority will require additional educational assistance. Approximately 10% will have significant neurologic impairment. In school, particular attention should be paid to evaluating the child for deficits in arithmetic and verbal skills. Performance may be better than predicted from IQ testing. Behavioral issues are common, with depression, concerns about social competence, and attention difficulties most frequently endorsed. This may pre-date transplantation in those who undergo transplantation during childhood and may improve with time. Parents more often report problem behaviors than teachers. Family resources and family coping skills are also strongly correlated with the child's emotions and coping skills. Conclusion The pediatric heart transplant recipient's ability to transition from childhood into a happy and productive adult life can be significantly affected by his or her cognitive abilities, learning experiences, sense of self, and emotions. Attention to these factors is an important part of caring for these children.

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