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Prescription of cardiovascular medication in children with congenital heart defects across six European Regions from 2000 to 2014: data from the EUROlinkCAT population-based cohort study

Lay Summary

Improved surgical techniques over the last 20 years mean that children born with congenital heart defects now are more likely to survive childhood than those born in earlier years. However, the surviving children may experience  ill health due to complications later in childhood and adolescence. We therefore investigated the health of children born with congenital heart defects  during their first 10 years of life by examining how much cardiovascular medication they were prescribed.

We analysed data on 61,000 children born with a congenital anomaly, including 20,000 with congenital heart defects of whom 3500 had severe congenital heart defects and compared them to 1.7 million reference children without a congenital anomaly

Children born with severe congenital heart defects were the group most likely to receive a cardiovascular medication prescription in the first year of life - 42% of all children with these defects were prescribed such medication compared with <0.1% of the reference children . Prescription rates were highest in the first year of life and then steadily declined, but for those with severe congenital heart defects, the prescription rate remained high during the first 10 years of life, being 19% at ages 1-4 and 16% at ages 5-9 compared to 0.1% and 0.2% respectively for reference children.  A similar pattern was observed for all children with congenital heart defects with 13%, 6% and 4% being prescribed medication at ages 1,1-4 and 5-9 respectively.

In conclusion almost half of all children with severe congenital heart defects were prescribed a cardiovascular medication in their first year of life. Although almost one fifth will continue to experience ill health after their first year of life this proportion does decrease as they grow older.


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