Congenital heart disease is tied to significantly lowered intellectual abilities

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Compared with controls, children with CHD performed less well across all WISC-V indices and with large effect sizes for all indices and most subtests.

An exploration of the performance of children with congenital heart disease (CHD) using the newest version of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children Fifth Edition (WISC-V) found that children with CHD performed less well than controls across all indices and most subtests.

The WISC-V, which is individually administered, provides a full-scale IQ along with index scores on general ability, cognitive proficiency, verbal comprehension, visual spatial abilities, fluid reasoning, working memory, and processing speed. The full-scale IQ comprises 7 subtests: similarities, vocabulary, block design, matrix reasoning, figure weights, digit span, and coding.

Investigators compared results of the Canadian version of WISC-V in 38 patients with moderate to severe CHD aged 6 to 16 years with those of normative controls. Overall, the CHD group showed below-average intellectual function. Compared with controls, children with CHD performed less well across all WISC-V indices and with large effect sizes for all indices and most subtests. Block design, digit span, and similarities were the most common impairments in children with CHD.

THOUGHTS FROM DR FARBER:

Once children with CHD are doing well medically and are in regular elementary school classes, one might assume that smooth sailing is likely. However, findings from this study show that even though as a group the children did not have intellectual disabilities, they did have cognitive delays with patterns that suggested high risks for learning disabilities. Monitor such children’s school progress closely.
Reference:

Vasserman M, Myers K, Brooks BL, et al. Patterns of WISC-V performance in children with congenital heart disease. Pediatr Cardiol. 2024;45(3):483-490. doi:10.1007/s00246-023-03367-8

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