Dr. Donofrio performs an ultrasound

Tracking neurodevelopmental outcomes for kids with congenital heart disease

Extensive research has shown that children with congenital heart disease (CHD) who are born blue or who need cardiac surgery in their first year of life are at risk for developmental challenges and/or learning difficulties.

Mary Donofrio, M.D., co-director of the Cardiac Neurodevelopment Outcome (CANDO) program at Children’s National Hospital, says that we started the program — the only one of its kind in the Washington, D.C. region — to identify and manage delays in development and difficulties with learning, no matter when they arise.

“We start paying attention even before birth and then continue to evaluate neurodevelopment at key stages in a kid’s life to assure the best outcome. Our goal is for every kid born with CHD to be able to achieve their full potential, be active, make friends and succeed in school. Most important, we want each of our patients to grow up to be a happy and successful adult,” says Dr. Donofrio.

Learn more about CANDO at Children’s National Hospital and our role in developing best practices for neurodevelopmental and psychosocial services as part of the international multi-specialty Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Outcome Collaborative.