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.