Academic Achievement Among Children with Congenital Heart Defects in Arkansas

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Suman Maity
Nahed El-hassan
Anthony Goudie
Jeffrey R Kaiser
Wendy N Nembhard


Children with congenital heart defects (CHD) have impaired cognitive development.

The objective was to determine if children with CHDs differed in academic performance during elementary and middle school years from children without CHDs. Data from the state birth defects registry, Arkansas Reproductive Health Monitoring System (ARHMS), birth certificate records, and achievement test-scores (grades 3-8) from the Arkansas Department of Education were linked using unique identifiers for children born between 2000-2011 in Arkansas. Cases were identified using 6-digit British Paediatric Association codes and matched controls were assigned from birth certificate data. Proficiency (yes/no) on achievement tests was determined using standard thresholds per grade. Data were stratified based on sex, gestational age, and birth weight. Odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated from multivariate logistic regression adjusting for maternal education level and age, race/ethnicity, and infant sex.

A total of 3,730 children with CHDs and 7,385 children without CHDs were evaluated. Children with CHD were less likely to be proficient in early elementary school grades for mathematics (3rd: OR=0.72, 95% CI: 0.59, 0.87; 4th: OR=0.77, 95% CI: 0.62, 0.95) and literacy (3rd: OR=0.75, 95% CI: 0.63, 0.89; 4th: OR=0.72, 95% CI: 0.58, 0.90). The trend of being less proficient associated with CHD remained mostly consistent with sex, gestational age, and birth weight. In multivariate analysis, CHD was negatively associated with being proficient in mathematics and literacy. Maternal education (1-3 years beyond high school) was positively associated with test proficiency. Additionally, non-Hispanic (NH) black children had lower odds of being proficient compared to NH white children.

Educational performance was negatively associated with CHD in early elementary grades; there was no difference in later grades. However, larger sample sizes in later grades are necessary for reliable estimates. Maternal education and race/ethnicity were significant factors associated with childhood educational performance.

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How to Cite
Maity, S., El-hassan, N., Goudie, A., Kaiser, J. R. and Nembhard, W. N. (2020) “Academic Achievement Among Children with Congenital Heart Defects in Arkansas”, International Journal of Population Data Science, 5(5). doi: 10.23889/ijpds.v5i5.1635.