A new study suggests that some infants that undergo really complicated heart surgeries as infants will stand a higher than average risk of developing disabilities like cerebral palsy when they are older. Pediatric surgeons want to make certain that parents of infants who might need heart surgeries that are deemed complicated should know that the risk that the child will develop neurological or motor disabilities after the surgery is slim.

Babies at the Highest risk of Disability Development

According to the study the infants who were at the greatest risk of disability development after a complex heart surgery procedure were infants who required more than one surgery to repair their cardiac complications. Babies who had higer than normal levels of lactate in their blood also had a higher chance of developing disabilities after they had heart repair surgeries.

The Study

The study suggests that prenatal testing should be performed to try and identify those infants that might need complex cardiac surgeries and treatment after birth.

What is lactate?

Lactate is a substance found in blood after a body has been attempting to function without the proper amount of oxygen. The higher the levels of lactate are in blood the lower the levels of oxygen in the body are.

Connection between the Disabilities and the Heart Surgeries

There is not a direct connection that indicates that the heart surgery actually causes, or contributes to the instances of the children developing neurological disabilities. The children who developed the neurological disabilities after having the heart surgery may have been going to develop the disabilities even if they did not have the surgical procedures.

What this means

Parents and pediatricians should be aware of the possibility that infants who have complex heart surgeries might develop neurological disabilities later so they can prepare for this possibility. The study was not intended to discourage a parent from seeking proper heart care for their infant. The study was meant to be used as a tool so that doctors could prepare parents for possibilities in their child’s future, and could start to create an environment in the child’s life that would be nurturing to them if the disability was to occur.

It is crucial that parents realize that the children who develop these disabilities after heart surgeries are in the minority. More than ninety five percent of the children who have had complex heart surgeries have not developed any type of disability as they aged.

The study looked at more than four hundred children who had undergone complicated heart surgeries as infants, and by the time these children had reached the age of four and one-half  only four percent of them had developed any type of disability.

Of the children who did develop neurological disabilities all of them had undergone several operations, and had complex health issues, other than just the heart surgeries.