Newborn Screening for Critical Congenital Heart Disease at Birth Saves Lives

A test called beat oximetry, from critical congenital heart disease (CCHD) infant deaths, decreased over 33% out of eight states that mandated screening for CCHD utilizing. Additionally, deaths from other or unspecified cardiac causes decreased by 21%.

Pulse oximetry is a simple bedside test to determine the amount of oxygen in a child’s blood and the infant’s pulse rate. Low levels of oxygen in the blood can be an indication of a CCHD. CCHD screening across the nation could spare no less than 120 babies every year, as indicated by a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

This study is the first look at the effect of state policies that either require or recommend screening of infants for CCHD during childbirth.

The research, Association of U.S. for Critical Congenital Heart Disease with Infant Cardiac Deaths, State Implementation of Newborn Screening Policies, demonstrates that states that required their hospitals to screen newborns with pulse oximetry saw the most significant reduction in infant deaths compared and states without screening policies.

Voluntary policies or mandated policies not yet implemented were not related to reductions in infant death rates. The empowering news is that 47 states and Washington, D.C., now have mandatory screening policies set up, and one additional state, California, needs screening be offered.

These outcomes serve in as a suggestion to hospitals across the nation over to remain careful in their screening for CCHD.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D. said, “More families are able to celebrate special milestones in an infant’s life because of the early identification and treatment of heart defects. Screening infants for critical congenital heart disease in each state, tribe and territory will save lives and help children to flourish.”

About one in every four children born with a congenital heart defect has CCHD and will require surgery or different methods in the first year of life. In the U.S., around 7,200 children born every year have one of seven CCHDs.

Without screening by a pulse oximetry reading, a few infants born with a congenital heart defect can seem healthy at first and be sent home with their families previously their heart defect is recognized.

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