Objective: To investigate whether children with varying severity of congenital heart defects (CHDs) have a higher risk of internalizing or externalizing emotional problems at 36 months of age. In addition, to analyze whether a history of emotional problems at 6 or 18 months of age increases the risk of emotional problems at 36 months in children with CHDs.
Methods: Prospective data from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study, conducted by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, was linked with a nationwide CHD registry, and 175 children with CHDs were identified in a cohort of 44,104 children aged 36 months. Maternal reports on child characteristics were assessed by questionnaires at child age 6, 18, and 36 months.
Results: Children with CHDs did not have elevated scores on internalizing or externalizing problems at 36 months of age compared with controls. Not even the children with CHDs with a history of emotional problems at age 6 or 18 months showed an increased risk.
Conclusions: The absence of risk of emotional problems at 36 months of age in children with CHDs could be a consequence of the completion of the most extensive medical treatment.
From the *Division of Mental Health, Department of Psychosomatics and Health Behavior, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway; †Department of Psychology, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway; ‡Department of Pediatrics, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway; §Department of Psychosomatics and Psychiatry, University Children's Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland; ∥Department of Pediatrics, Sørlandet Hospital HF, Kristiandsand, Norway.
Received November 2010; accepted April 2011.
The Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study is supported by the Norwegian Ministry of Health, NIH/NIEHS (grant N01-ES-85433), NIH/NINDS (grant 1 UO1 NS 047537-01), and the Norwegian Research Council/FUGE (grant 151918/S10). This study is supported by the Norwegian Research Council (grant 181862/V50).
Address for reprints: Kim Stene-Larsen, PhD, Division of Mental Health, Department of Psychosomatics and Health Behavior, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Postbox 4404 Nydalen, 0403 Oslo, Norway; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.