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The long-term impact of congenital heart surgery in childhood


Children with certain conditions are living years or decades longer than they previously could, thanks to medical advances. A new investigation looks at the long-reaching impact of congenital heart surgery.

Advances in medicine mean that many children with serious diseases are surviving years or decades longer than they previously would have. However, little is often known about the long-term impact that interventions that lead to greater survival have on long-term quality of life outcomes. A new investigation in Pediatrics looks at the impact of congenital heart surgery performed in childhood.1

Researchers used data from 10,635 patients who had surgery for congenital heart defects at <15 years of age in Finland between 1953 and 2009. Each of the patients was matched by age, sex, birth time, and hospital district to 4 control subjects. Statistics Finland provided marital status, employment status, highest education, and progeny. All patients who were alive and aged ≥18 years at the end of follow-up were included in the study.

After applying inclusion criteria, 7308 patients were left. Overall, the patients had high school or vocational education rates that were similar to the general population. However, patients who had surgery had lower rates of undergraduate education or other higher education. They were also less likely to be married or have children when compared with the control group who hadn’t required surgery. Patients also had a significantly lower rate of employment as well as a significantly higher rate of retirement.

Researchers concluded that those who had congenital heart surgery during childhood were more likely to be disadvantaged in education and professional life than the general population. This was true regardless of the severity of the defect treated with surgery.


1. Raissadati A, Knihtilä H, Pätilä T, Nieminen H, Jokinen E. Long-term social outcomes after congenital heart surgery. Pediatrics. 2020:145(6):e20193745. doi:10.1542/peds.2019-3745

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