Background. Children with congenital heart disease (CHD) commonly experience delayed growth. Because growth and development are closely related, both should be considered when a child's progress is examined.
Purpose. This paper reports a study to evaluate and compare the growth and development of preschool children with CHD to those of normal preschool children.
Methods. The heights and weights of 42 preschool children with CHD and 116 normal preschool children were compared with standard growth curves. Differences in development of personal and social skills, fine motor skills and adaptability, language, and gross motor skills were evaluated. Developmental skills were assessed using the Denver Developmental Screening Test II.
Results. A significant difference was found in both body height (P < 0·05) and weight (P < 0·05) between the two groups. More preschoolers with congenital hear disease were below the 50th percentile in height (P < 0·05) and weight (P < 0·001). Preschoolers with CHD had more suspicious interpretations than non-CHD preschoolers, specifically in the language (P < 0·01) and gross motor sections (P < 0·001). Nevertheless, there were two items in the personal-social section and one in the language section on which the children with heart disease passed in the range of 55·6–63·2%. Problems were encountered with the Denver II test because of differences in language, culture and childrearing methods between Taiwanese and Western societies. These cultural differences must be considered when the test is used to assess development.
Conclusions. Learning about the growth and developmental differences between children with CHD and normal children may help parents of the former to detect problems associated with delayed growth and development earlier. These children and their families should have the opportunity to participate in a long-term, follow-up programme that provides information and encourages developmental progress. The results could serve as a reference for those in both clinical and community workers who provide nursing care to children with CHD.