Findings support long-term assessments to prevent and reduce developmental delays for children with congenital heart disease

February 14, 2014
MILWAUKEE  – Findings of the study “Risk and Prevalence of Developmental Delay in Young Children with Congenital Heart Disease” were published last week in Pediatrics. Researchers recommend systematic monitoring of children with congenital heart disease (CHD) to increase early detection and appropriate intervention for developmental delays. The research was led by principal investigator Kathleen A. Mussatto, PhD, RN, Herma Heart Center, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. This is the first study to report findings using a consistent developmental assessment tool in young children throughout the first 3 years of life.

Researchers followed 99 children with CHD at 395 visits at the Herma Heart Center Developmental Follow-Up Clinic at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. A significant factor associated with developmental progress in all areas, language, motor and attention, was the ability to achieve full oral feeding without the need for supplemental feeding. Their findings include recommending strategies to improve feeding skills, such as speech and feeding therapy or a multi-disciplinary feeding clinic for all children who need supplemental tube feeding.
“Early detection of developmental problems will direct interventions that can prevent or reduce long-term problems known to have a profoundly negative impact on quality of life and ability to achieve optimum potential in adulthood,” said Mussatto.

Herma Heart Center is one of the nation's top programs for medical and surgical treatment of congenital heart defects and heart disease in children. Our experienced team of pediatric cardiologists, surgeons and specialists have some of the best outcomes in the nation.

About Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin
Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin is the region’s only independent health care system dedicated solely to the health and well-being of children. The hospital, with locations in Milwaukee and Neenah, Wis., is recognized as one of the leading pediatric health care centers in the United States. It is ranked No. 4 in the nation by Parents magazine and ranked in 9 specialty areas in U.S. News & World Report’s 2013-14 Best Children’s Hospitals report. Children’s Hospital provides primary care, specialty care, urgent care, emergency care, community health services, foster and adoption services, child and family counseling, child advocacy services and family resource centers. In 2012, Children’s Hospital invested more than $117 million in the community to improve the health status of children through medical care, advocacy, education and pediatric medical research. Children’s Hospital achieves its mission in part through donations from individuals, corporations and foundations and is proud to be a member of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. For more information, visit the website at