NeuroCardiac and Development Program

Focused on supporting the developmental needs of children with congenital heart disease.

We are dedicated to promoting the best outcomes for survivor families of congenital heart disease and the challenges they face.

boy with heart surgery scar on his chest
boy with heart surgery scar on his chest

Who We Are

As increasing numbers of children survive congenital heart disease (CHD) treatments, there is growing recognition of developmental, behavioral and academic challenges that may impact these children as they grow.

The NeuroCardiac and Development Program offers a multidisciplinary approach for the evaluation and treatment of children with congenital heart defects (CHD), and develop an individualized treatment for each child.

Nicklaus Children’s Hospital is part of the Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Outcome Collaborative (CNOC), a national consortium of healthcare organizations and professionals committed to optimizing neurodevelopmental outcomes for individuals with pediatric and congenital heart disease through clinical, quality and research initiatives, with the goal to maximize quality of life for every individual.

Is the NeuroCardiac Development Program Right for Your Child?

Ideal candidates for this program are children with a congenital heart defect and experiencing any of the following:

  • Surgery within the first 6 months of life
  • Developmental or genetic syndromes
  • Seizures or stroke
  • Prematurity (Born <37 weeks gestation)
  • Not meeting developmental milestones
  • Emotional outbursts or behavioral problems
  • Struggling in school


The NeuroCardiac and Development Program specialists help identify potential developmental delays, learning and/or behavioral concerns during the different stages of childhood. Individualized recommendations are made during your child’s visit to help support their needs. Clinic visits are scheduled according to your child’s age and needs.

Infancy (First year of life)

Developmental evaluations

  • Within the first 3 months of life
  • 6 months
  • 9 months
  • 12 months

During each evaluation, the specialist will assess your child’s developmental milestones of physical, motor, social-emotional, speech development and feeding skills.

Toddler (1 - 3 years of age) & Preschool (3 - 5 years of age)

Developmental evaluations

  • 18 months (1.5 years of age)
  • 36 months ( 3 years of age)
  • 5 years of age

The specialist will continue to assess your child’s physical, motor, social-emotional, speech development and feeding skills. In addition, they will assess behavioral patterns and function. Starting at age 5 a neuropsychologist will perform comprehensive evaluations of cognitive, psychosocial and behavioral abilities to assess for school readiness.

School-Age (6+ years of age)

Evaluations by a neuropsychologist are based on your child’s needs and can continue throughout adolescence. Find descriptions of Neuropsychological Assessments here.

Features of our program

  • Inpatient Neurocardiac Rounds:  During the child’s hospitalization in the cardiac unit, the multidisciplinary team meets weekly to identify risk factors that could impact your child’s neurodevelopmental outcomes. Recommendations are made to the medical team and intervention is started. Our team well understands that the earlier the concerns are evaluated and delays are identified, the better the opportunity to achieve a successful outcome.
  • Outpatient Neurocardiac Clinic: The team of specialists will continue to follow up with those patients who have risk factors that could impact the patient’s development, those with developmental delays and/or learning difficulties. Evaluations begin in infancy and continue through the child’s transition to adulthood.

Developmental Screenings and Evaluations provide families with resources for variety of early intervention programs and services, including:

  • Early Steps
  • Speech and Language Pathology (SLP) Therapies
  • Physical Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy
  • Pediatric Psychology (e.g., parent-child interaction therapy, parent management training)
  • Pediatric Audiology
  • UM-NSU Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (UM-NSU CARD)
  • FIU Center for Children and Families (FIU CCF)

Multidisciplinary Team of Specialists

The program brings together a team of pediatric specialists for the evaluation and management of each child’s condition during collaborative clinics. This team approach simplifies the care journey for families, enabling them to consult with all needed specialists during a single clinic visit and benefit from the collective assessment of the entire team. The team is integrated by the following pediatric specialties:

  • Cardiology
  • Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics
  • Neurology
  • Neuropsychology
  • Rehabilitation
  • Social Worker

Visit our Family Resources for helpful links and information for families of children with CHD.

featured patient photo.
featured patient photo.

Stories to Inspire

Olivia was born with a congenital heart defect, her first open heart surgery was scheduled just days after she took her first breath. Olivia's parents placed their trust in the hands of The Heart Institute at Nicklaus Children's Hospital.
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