Image: Deafness is a common side effect of heart surgery for infants

(Natural News) A study has found that deafness is a common side effect of heart surgery for infants, with a 20 times higher rate in comparison to that of the general population. The study was carried out by a team of researchers who looked at the prevalence of hearing loss after heart surgery in infants. The team also analyzed patient and operative factors linked to hearing loss, and the association of hearing loss with neurodevelopmental outcomes.

In the study, the team carried out an audiologic and neurodevelopment tests on 348 children who had undergone a heart surgery for a congenital heart disease at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia as a part of a prospective study assessing neurodevelopmental outcomes at four years of age. The results of the study revealed that hearing loss was evident in 21.6 percent of the study participants or 75 out of 348 children. In addition, those with hearing loss were found to have lower scores in language skills, cognition, and executive function and attention.

The study researchers said that factors such as high-frequency noises in intensive care units and exposure to medications with side effects that damage hearing played a role in the development of hearing loss, although these factors were not directly studied by the researchers.

They also recommended that aside from universal newborn screening, any child who had undergone heart surgery at six months old should at least have one audiologic evaluation by 24 to 30 months of age in order to determine hearing loss in timely manner.

The researchers of the study believe that their findings highlight the importance of hearing evaluations as early detection of a hearing problem and its intervention can lessen later issues in neurodevelopment.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the American Heart Association (AHA), and the June and Steve Wolfson Family Foundation.

More on heart surgery in children

Heart surgery in children is needed in order to repair heart defects a child is born with and heart conditions a child gets after birth. Heart defects can be minor or more serious and can occur inside the heart or in the large blood vessels outside the heart. Some heart defects may require an operation immediately after the child is born, while others may need an operation after months or years. Some ways on fixing heart problems include open-heart surgery, closed-heart surgery, and insertion of small tubes into an artery in the leg and pass them up to the heart.

Generally, symptoms that tell that surgery is needed include blue or gray skin, lips, and nail beds, which mean that there is not enough oxygen in the blood; having a hard time breathing due to the lungs being “wet,” congested, or filled with fluid; abnormal with heart rate or heart rhythm, also known as arrythmias; and poor feeding or sleeping, and lack of growth and development of the child.

Although a heart surgery may treat heart defects, it also comes with other risks, which include bleeding during surgery or days after surgery, bad reactions to medicines, difficulty in breathing, and infection. Other heart surgery risks include blood clots, air bubbles, pneumonia, heartbeat problems, heart attack, and stroke. (Related: Cardiac Patients Recover Better With Heart Surgery Nutrition.)

Typically, recovery from a heart surgery will take at least three or four weeks. However for larger surgeries, recovery may take six to eight weeks. For infants, prevent the baby from crying for too long for the first three to four weeks, and when lifting the child, support both the baby’s head and bottom for the first four to six weeks. For their diets, most infants can take as much formula or breast milk as they want, but limit feeding time to approximately 40 minutes. For wound care, the healthcare provider will give instructions on how to take care for the incisions.

Learn more about the risks of heart surgery at

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