Individualized Family-Centered Developmental Care: An Essential Model to Address the Unique Needs of Infants With Congenital Heart Disease

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Lisanti: 0000-0002-1826-6152

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The Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing

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BACKGROUND: Infants born with critical congenital heart disease (cCHD) who require surgical intervention in the newborn period are often hospitalized in a cardiac intensive care unit (CICU). Cardiac surgery and the CICU environment are traumatic to infants and their families. Infants are exposed to overwhelming stress, which can result in increased pain, physiologic instability, behavioral disorganization, disrupted attachment, and altered brain development. Individualized Family-centered Developmental Care (IFDC) is a model that can address the unique needs and developmental challenges of infants with cCHD.

PURPOSE: The purpose of this article is to (1) clearly describe the uniqueness of the infant with cCHD, including the medical, neurological, and parental challenges, and (2) propose methods to apply IFDC to support recovery of infants with cCHD in the CICU.

CONCLUSIONS: The experiences in the CICU shape the developing brain and alter recovery and healing, thus adversely impacting development. Individualized Family-centered Developmental Care is a promising model of care that nurses can integrate into the CICU to promote neuroprotection and development. Nurses can effectively integrate IFDC into the CICU by understanding the unique characteristics of infants with cCHD and applying IFDC interventions that include both maturity and recovery perspectives.

CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: The incorporation of IFDC interventions is essential for the infant with cCHD and should be a standard of care. Applying IFDC with a recovery perspective in all aspects of caregiving will provide opportunities for individualization of care and parent engagement, allowing infants in the CICU to recover from surgery while supporting both short- and long-term neurodevelopment.


Female, Health Services Needs and Demand, Heart Defects, Congenital, Humans, Infant, Infant, Newborn, Intensive Care Units, Neonatal, Needs Assessment, Parents, Patient Care Bundles



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