Congenital heart defect (CHD) is the most common congenital anomaly in infants and is known to be a leading cause of malnutrition.
This study aimed to provide insights into the prevalence of malnutrition in children with CHD in Iran.
The study enrolled 515 under-five children with CHD. The diagnosis was based on the definitive result of cardiac catheterization report. They were divided into the subgroups of cyanotic with pulmonary hypertension (PH), acyanotic with PH, cyanotic without PH, and acyanotic without PH according to their diagnosis. The degree of growth failure and the severity of malnutrition were evaluated based on the WHO standards (z-score criteria) in three categories as mild (-1.1 to -2.0 SD), moderate (-2.1 to -3.0 SD), and severe (≤ 3 SD).
Among the studied groups, the most prevalent CHDs were ventricular septal defect (VSD; 42.9%) and tetralogy of Fallot (TOF; 17.3%). Severe malnutrition was significantly more prevalent in cyanotic patients with and without PH (n = 23; 63.9% and n = 89; 51.1%, respectively). Normal nutritional status was significantly more in acyanotic patients without PH (P < 0.001). Overall, malnutrition in this study was mild in 16.3%, moderate in 24.1%, and severe in 39.8% of cases.
The study showed that the prevalence of malnutrition in children with CHD aged under 5 years was noticeably high at this center in Iran. The administration of nutritional requirements such as low-volume and high-calorie diets should be considered for these vulnerable children.