In a group of 348 preschoolers who survived cardiac surgery, the researchers found hearing loss in about 21 per cent.
The scientists recommend that children who undergo heart surgery have their hearing evaluated by age 24 to 30 months, to increase their chances of receiving timely medical intervention.
"Children born with life-threatening heart defects require a great deal of sophisticated care before and after surgery," said Nancy B Burnham from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
The researchers performed their analysis as part of a prospective observational study of neurodevelopmental outcomes in preschool-aged children who underwent infant surgery for congenital heart defects.
The study, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, involved 348 children who had a comprehensive neurodevelopmental evaluation at age four between 2003 and 2008.
Children with hearing loss had lower scores on measures of language skills, cognition (IQ testing), and executive function and attention.
The researchers recommend that any child who undergoes cardiac surgery by six months of age should have at least one audiologic evaluation by 24 to 30 months of age, to identify hearing loss in timely manner.
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