Background: Advances in diagnostic technologies, surgical management, and perioperative care have increased survival for neonates with complex congenital heart disease (CCHD). The success of these advances exposed a heightened risk of brain injury and developmental disabilities. The General Movements Assessment, a non-invasive method, may detect early neurodevelopmental impairments in high-risk infants. Aims: To examine whether infants with CCHD undergoing neonatal surgery have higher prevalence of atypical general movements (GMs) than a reference group, and whether single ventricle physiology with systemic oxygen saturations <90% increases risk for atypical GMs. Methods: Serial General Movements Assessment (GMA) in a cohort of infants with CCHD (n = 74) at writhing (term-6 weeks) and fidgety (7–17 weeks) GM-age. GMA focused on the presence of definitely abnormal GM-complexity and absent fidgety movements. Single GMAs at 3 months were available from a reference sample of Dutch infants (n = 300). Regression analyses examined relationships between cardiac characteristics and definitely abnormal GM-complexity. Results: Higher prevalence of definitely abnormal GM-complexity in infants with CCHD compared to reference infants (adjusted OR 5.938, 95% CI 2.423–14.355), single ventricle CCHD increased the risk. Occurrence of absent fidgety movements was similar in infants with CCHD and reference infants (adjusted OR 0.475, 95% CI 0.058–3.876). Systemic postoperative oxygen saturations <90% was associated with higher risk of definitely abnormal GM-complexity at fidgety (adjusted OR 16.445 95% CI 1.149–235.281), not at writhing age. Conclusions: Infants with CCHD, especially those with single ventricle CCHD, are at increased risk of definitely abnormal GM-complexity. GMA at fidgety age is recommended.
- General Movements Assessment
- Movement complexity
- Complex congenital heart disease
- Chronic hypoxaemia