Routine Congenital Heart Disease Screenings Could Save Newborn Lives


September 27, 2011

September 27, 2011 — Last week’s inclusion of critical congenital heart disease (CCHD) in the standard list of recommended screenings for new babies by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has received support from the American College of Cardiology (ACC).

Gerard Martin, M.D., FACC, immediate past-chair of the ACC’s Adult Congenital and Pediatric Cardiology Council, said the procedure costs little and will save lives. He also said the decision recognizes the importance of early detection of heart defects.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced last week that CCHD screening would be included on the Recommended Uniform Screening Panel. It is a list of 30 disorders for which newborns are routinely screened in the United States.

She also adopted recommendations to direct the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to fund additional research on the impact of screening.

“Secretary Sebelius did the right thing,” said Martin, who led the ACC’s campaign to ensure the screening is provided. “Physical examination alone has not been able to detect critical congenital heart disease in all babies. Pulse oximetry, an inexpensive, non-invasive test, in addition to a careful physical examination will improve detection.”

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