Disruptions in the development of feeding for infants with congenital heart disease


Department of Pediatric Rehabilitation, Advocate Children's Hospital

Pediatric Rehabilitation and Development, Advocate Children's Hospital


Congenital heart disease (CHD) is the most common birth defect for infants born in the United States, with approximately 36,000 affected infants born annually. While mortality rates for children with CHD have significantly declined, there is a growing population of individuals with CHD living into adulthood prompting the need to optimise long-term development and quality of life. For infants with CHD, pre- and post-surgery, there is an increased risk of developmental challenges and feeding difficulties. Feeding challenges carry profound implications for the quality of life for individuals with CHD and their families as they impact short- and long-term neurodevelopment related to growth and nutrition, sensory regulation, and social-emotional bonding with parents and other caregivers. Oral feeding challenges in children with CHD are often the result of medical complications, delayed transition to oral feeding, reduced stamina, oral feeding refusal, developmental delay, and consequences of the overwhelming intensive care unit (ICU) environment. This article aims to characterise the disruptions in feeding development for infants with CHD and describe neurodevelopmental factors that may contribute to short- and long-term oral feeding difficulties.

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