June 15, 2024

September 27, 2018

2 min read

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Children in the United States who have a heart condition are significantly more likely to have additional special health care needs, according to a CDC report. Because approximately 1% of children in the U.S. have a current heart condition and another 1% have experienced a past heart condition, researchers write that this information could assist in intervention and public health resource planning.

“Congenital heart defects (CHDs) are the most common type of birth defect in the U.S., affecting approximately 1% of live births,” Meng-Yu Chen, MD, from the CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service and division of congenital and developmental disorders at the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, and colleagues wrote. “Children with CHDs often use more health care or educational services than do children without CHDs and might require specialized care.”

The researchers examined the prevalence of heart conditions among 48,479 American children aged 17 years and younger using 2016 data collected from the National Survey of Children’s Health. Chen and colleagues were not aware of whether heart conditions were congenital or acquired.

According to the survey, approximately 900,000 (1.3%) of U.S. children had an existing heart condition in 2016, and approximately 755,000 (1.1%) previously had a heart condition. These children were more likely to use prescription medications (current, 42.8%; past, 26.6%) and use medical care, mental health or educational services (current, 41.8%; past, 23.9%).

stethascope with a heart

Source: Adobe

Special health care needs were common among these children, with 60% of kids with current heart conditions and 40% of kids with past heart conditions reporting one or more special health care needs. The percentage of children with special health care needs without heart conditions was significantly lower (18.7%). Chen and colleagues wrote that the largest difference in special health care needs were related to functional limitations (current adjusted prevalence ratio [aPR] = 6.3; 95% CI, 5.0-8.1; past aPR = 3.7; 95% CI, 2.4-5.6).

Children with current heart conditions were most likely to have more special health care needs when they were male (aPR = 1.3), children with a family income less than 100% of the federal poverty level (aPR = 1.4) and children who lived in a household arrangement other than a two-parent household (aPR = 1.3). These risk factors remained consistent when children with Down system or other genetic conditions — a population with a high rate of heart conditions (11%) — were excluded.

“The first population-based prevalence estimates of children with heart conditions and their special health care needs highlight the importance of guidelines for developmental surveillance and screening for early identification and intervention,” Chen and colleagues wrote. “These estimates could inform national and state child health programs to ensure that children with heart conditions receive necessary services.” – by Katherine Bortz

The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.


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