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J Am Coll Cardiol. 1985 Oct;6(4):889-93.

Intelligence and hypoxemia in children with congenital heart disease: fact or artifact?


Previous studies have reported lower intelligence for cyanotic than for acyanotic children with congenital heart disorders, a finding attributed to the degree of hypoxemia present. Several important variables have not been examined consistently, however, including coexisting neurologic or genetic disorders, definitive surgery, degree of sickness, age at testing sex and social class. The present study examined the relation of these variables to obtained intelligence measures for 82 consecutively admitted children, excluding children with abnormal neurologic examinations and those having received definitive surgery. Consistent with earlier reports, intelligence quotients for the acyanotic children (112.81 +/- 14.52 mean +/- SD) were significantly higher (t = 2.60; p = 0.006) than for the cyanotic group (103.50 +/- 15.81). Although sex, race and social class were not significantly different between the 28 cyanotic and the 54 acyanotic children, the cyanotic children were significantly sicker (x2 = 9.12; p = 0.005) and younger (t = 4.10; p = 0.001). However, when young and old children and the degree of sickness within cyanotic and acyanotic groups were compared, no significant differences were found. These findings demonstrate that intelligence differences between cyanotic and acyanotic children persist when the effect of neurologic abnormalities and definitive surgery is removed and remain despite the severity of sickness or child's age at testing.

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