Abnormal growth regulation may occur in children with heart defects

February 19, 2013, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

The poor growth seen in children born with complex heart defects may result from factors beyond deficient nutrition. A new study by pediatric researchers suggests that abnormalities in overall growth regulation play a role.

"When compared with their healthy peers, children with have impaired growth, as measured in weight, length, and ," said senior author Meryl S. Cohen, M.D., a pediatric cardiologist in the Cardiac Center at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "We investigated patterns of poor growth in these children, as a starting point in guiding us toward more effective treatments."

The study appeared as an online article in the January 2013 issue of Pediatrics.

The researchers performed a retrospective analysis of medical records of 856 children with congenital heart disease (CHD), compared to 7,654 matched control subjects. All the children were measured up to age 3, and all were drawn from the healthcare network of The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Within weeks of birth, the children with CHD had significant deficits in weight, length and head circumference, compared to matched controls without CHD. The largest differences in weight occurred at 4 months of age. Among the 856 children with CHD, the 248 who required surgical repair were much more likely to be below the 3rd percentile in weight, length and head circumference during early , and their growth by age 3 did not catch up with that of their healthy peers.

In the 608 children with CHD who did not require surgery, growth differences were not as pronounced, but even their growth patterns lagged behind those of healthy controls.

Researchers already knew that children with CHD have an increased risk for poor growth, but this analysis provides a fuller picture of the problem. Cohen observed that in the general population, when is insufficient, an infant's weight is usually affected first, followed by length and head circumference. "The fact that all three parameters changed simultaneously rather than sequentially supports the idea that impaired growth in children with heart disease is affected at least in part by factors unrelated to nutrition."

She added that further studies should investigate the possible roles of growth hormones and other physiologic factors that affect growth regulation in children with CHD.

Explore further: Prenatal diagnosis of congenital heart disease increases maternal stress, depression, and anxiety

More information: Pediatrics, Jan. 2013, pp. e236-e242

Related Stories

Prenatal diagnosis of congenital heart disease increases maternal stress, depression, and anxiety

September 7, 2012
Heart defects are the most common form of congenital malformations affecting newborns. Infants who were prenatally diagnosed with congenital heart disease (CHD) are more stable and have better outcomes than infants who were ...

Drinking in pregnancy shows up in child's growth: study

August 15, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Children who had significant prenatal exposure to alcohol may have delayed weight gain during infancy and alcohol-related growth restriction from early infancy until 9 years of age, researchers report.

Accelerated infant growth increases risk of future asthma symptoms in children

January 20, 2012
Accelerated growth in the first three months of life, but not fetal growth, is associated with an increased risk of asthma symptoms in young children, according to a new study from The Generation R Study Group at Erasmus ...

Poor growth, delayed puberty and heart problems plague kids with mild kidney disease

August 12, 2011
Children with only mildly to moderately impaired kidney function experience poor growth, delays in puberty, and heart problems, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society ...

Maternal use of SSRIs associated with fewer depressive symptoms, delayed fetal head growth

March 5, 2012
Treating pregnant women with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) appears to be associated with fewer depressive symptoms, reduced fetal head growth and a higher risk for preterm birth, but not with a delay in ...

Recommended for you

Baby brains help infants figure it out before they try it out

January 17, 2018
Babies often amaze their parents when they seemingly learn new skills overnight—how to walk, for example. But their brains were probably prepping for those tasks long before their first steps occurred, according to researchers.

NeuroNext biomarker study explores natural history of infantile-onset SMA

January 9, 2018
Research led by The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center to define the natural history of infantile-onset spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) has been "critical" to accelerate the development of effective therapies and hasten ...

No link between childhood lead levels, later criminality

December 27, 2017
(HealthDay)— Exposure to higher levels of lead during early childhood can affect neurological development—but does that mean affected kids are doomed to delinquency?

Early puberty in girls may take mental health toll

December 26, 2017
(HealthDay)—A girl who gets her first menstrual period early in life—possibly as young as 7—has a greater risk for developing depression and antisocial behaviors that last at least into her 20s, a new study suggests.

Technology not taking over children's lives despite screen-time increase

December 21, 2017
With children spending increasing amounts of time on screen-based devices, there is a common perception that technology is taking over their lives, to the detriment and exclusion of other activities. However, new Oxford University ...

Higher blood sugar in early pregnancy raises baby's heart-defect risk

December 15, 2017
Higher blood sugar early in pregnancy raises the baby's risk of a congenital heart defect, even among mothers who do not have diabetes, according to a study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.