Pediatric Behavioral Health at the Heart and Vascular Institute

At UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, we continue to make great advances in the care of our patients with congenital heart disease (CHD). Many children born with CHD have successful medical and surgical treatment early in life, allowing them to grow and thrive.

Behavioral health providers integrated into the Heart Institute at UPMC Children's provide collaborative care with your child's medical team to provide support and early intervention to improve health outcomes.

Behavioral Health Concerns in Children with CHD

Research has shown that children treated for CHD are more likely to have neurodevelopmental delays and behavioral health needs.

These may include:

  • Movement or language delays.
  • Visual-spatial difficulties.
  • Difficulty paying attention.
  • Behavioral concerns.
  • ADHD, anxiety, or depression.

UPMC Children's Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Care Program provides support for children and families starting in utero and throughout adolescence.

Children's Behavioral Health Services at the Heart Institute

Family support before birth

After receiving a fetal diagnosis of CHD, you and your loved ones may need extra support.

The goal of our Fetal Cardiology Neurodevelopmental Clinic is to offer multidisciplinary care to support you and your family's emotional health - from diagnosis, through pregnancy, and after birth.

Families can schedule a prenatal tele-consultation with a behavioral health provider in the Heart Institute. This appointment will address questions and concerns regarding development, strategies for coping during pregnancy, and strategies for parenting through your child's early hospitalizations and cardiac care.

Support during your child's time in the hospital

Treatment for CHD often involves hospitalization and surgery during critical times in a child's development.

Our Inpatient Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Care Program experts include:

  • Pediatric psychologist.
  • Occupational and physical therapists.
  • Child Life specialists.
  • Lactation consultants.
  • Nurses.
  • Researchers.

This team will:

  • Partner with your child's heart doctors, surgeons, and ICU doctors.
  • Provide total family-centered care for you and your child.
  • Give you one-on-one support during your child's hospital stay.

Outpatient early childhood services

The Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Clinic will provide follow-up care for your child after discharge from the hospital.

During these visits, you will be able to discuss your child's feeding, sleeping, activity, and behavior.

Our behavioral health providers will screen and test your child's:

  • Motor skills.
  • Early thinking and problem-solving skills.
  • Communication skills.
  • Social-emotional skills.
  • Behavioral development.

Visits in the early years will occur at:

  • 1 or 2 months after discharge.
  • 6 to 12 months old.
  • 18 to 24 months.
  • 30 to 36 months.

Outpatient school-age services

Specialized services are available for children and adolescents who have behavioral or emotional concerns within the context of their cardiac diagnosis.

Children and adolescents with CHD may have higher rates of:

  • ADHD.
  • Social-emotional issues.
  • Behavioral concerns.
  • Depression.
  • Anxiety.

Our behavioral health providers offer evidence-based therapies tailored to each child and family.