The neurologic and cognitive development of infants with congenital heart disease is receiving increased attention in recent years. Several concerns must be addressed:

  • Are the abnormalities of the heart and circulation associated with abnormalities of the central nervous system?
  • Are behavioral abnormalities the result of hypoxia or secondary to the invasive diagnostic and surgical procedures in early life ?
  • Does the parental anxiety surrounding the infant during the crucial neonatal period result in undesirable consequences?

Until recently the methodologic problems in the behavioral evaluation of infants were not adequately developed or tested, so that these questions have only recently been systematically evaluated.The results of these systematic investigations suggest an effect of each of the above possibilities. However, we need to look to the future to assemble adequate data regarding the origin of neurobehavioral anomalies. There should however be no delay in recognizing the clincial and educational needs of these young patients.

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