The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended pulse oximeter screening for all newborns in order to better identify the seven critical congenital heart defects (CCHDs). Congenital heart defects (CHDs) impose a large burden on newborn public health. In total, congenital heart defects are responsible for 24 percent of infant deaths due to birth defects. In the United States, several thousand babies are born each year with seven specific CHDs, called critical congenital heart defects.
CCHDs can be difficult to diagnose and it is estimated that each year hundreds of babies are sent home from the hospital without receiving the necessary treatment. However, CCHDs can often be detected by using a non-invasive machine called a pulse oximeter, which measures blood oxygen saturation. An abnormal pulse oximetry reading can indicate that a newborn has a CCHD and follow up testing should be done.
Several states have policies or laws regarding the screening for CCHDs. This Critical Congenital Newborn Screening Fact Sheet examines laws and policies in the Network’s Northern Region as well as early adopters of a policy to screen for CCHDs. The fact sheet examines laws and policies in the Network’s Northern Region as well as early adopters of a policy to screen for CCHDs.