Congenital heart disease (CHD) is a condition that affects the structure and function of the heart. It is the most common birth defect, affecting approximately 1 in 100 babies born in the United States. While advances in medical technology have improved the survival rates of babies with CHD, many still experience long-term neurological and developmental problems.
A recent study published in the journal Circulation used advanced imaging techniques to examine the brains of babies with CHD. The study found that babies with CHD had altered brain chemistry compared to babies without CHD.
The researchers used a technique called magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) to measure the levels of certain chemicals in the brains of the babies. They found that babies with CHD had lower levels of a chemical called N-acetylaspartate (NAA) in the white matter of their brains. NAA is a marker of healthy brain tissue, and lower levels of NAA have been associated with neurological and developmental problems.
The study also found that babies with CHD had higher levels of another chemical called choline in the gray matter of their brains. Choline is a marker of inflammation, and higher levels of choline have been associated with brain injury and developmental delays.
These findings suggest that babies with CHD may be at increased risk for neurological and developmental problems due to altered brain chemistry. The researchers hope that these findings will lead to new strategies for identifying and treating these problems in babies with CHD.