News | February 25, 2013

American Heart Association Focuses on Newborn Screenings for Congenital Heart Defects

Pulse oximetry can save lives by detecting heart defects otherwise missed

AHA Newborn Screenings for Congenital Heart Defects Pulse Oximetry

February 25, 2013 — The American Heart Association (AHA) is focusing its advocacy efforts across the Midwest on the use of pulse oximetry screening (pulse ox) to detect congenital heart defects in newborns.

"Pulse ox screening is non-invasive, inexpensive and can potentially save a child's life," said Maureen Cassidy, vice president of Advocacy for the American Heart Association's Midwest Affiliate. "In fact, new research suggests that wider use of pulse ox would help identify more than 90 percent of heart defects."

The test consists of sensors placed on a newborn's hand and foot to check blood oxygen levels. If levels are too low, additional tests may be conducted that aid in detecting critical or possibly life-threatening heart defects that might otherwise go undetected.

In September 2011, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius advised that critical congenital heart defects screening be added to the "Recommended Uniform Screening Panel" for newborns before they are released from a hospital or birthing facility. As a result, several states including New Jersey, Maryland, Indiana, Tennessee and West Virginia have already passed laws requiring newborns to have pulse ox screenings prior to being discharged from the hospital.

Ongoing advocacy efforts across the Midwest include:

  • Illinois – The AHA is working with volunteers, partner organizations and the Department of Public Health to pass pulse ox legislation.
  • Indiana – In spring 2011, the Indiana legislature added pulse ox to the state's newborn screening and all birthing facilities in Indiana are now required to perform this screening.
  • Iowa – Legislation has been introduced to require all hospitals to administer pulse ox screening to every newborn. The AHA continues to work with the Iowa Health Department to add this test to the screening panel.
  • Kansas – The AHA is working with the Kansas Newborn Screening Advisory Council to recommend that pulse ox screening be added to the list of tests conducted on all Kansasnewborns prior to discharge. The formal recommendation is expected later this spring.
  • Michigan – The AHA is supporting the Michigan Dept. of Community Health in coordinating a pilot study to establish best practices in pulse ox screening for the state. Educational materials can be found at
  • Minnesota – The state introduced legislation this February to make pulse ox screening required for all newborns before hospital discharge.
  • Missouri – Chloe's Law (Senate Bill 230/House Bill 274) has been introduced and would require all birthing facilities in Missouri to screen newborns using pulse ox. Both bills are scheduled to be heard in committee and could be discussed on the floor of each chamber as early as March.
  • Nebraska – The AHA is working with volunteers and partner organizations to pass screenings for all newborns in Nebraska. The bill passed an initial vote of 40-0 and must now continue through the legislature.
  • North Dakota – A North Dakota bill has passed the Senate by a 47 – 0 vote after a unanimous "Do Pass" recommendation by the Senate Human Services committee.
  • Ohio – The "Newborn Healthy Hearts Bill" (Senate Bill 4) has been introduced to include pulse oximetry screening to the newborn screening panel. The bill is a senate top 10 priority.
  • South Dakota – Senate Bill 168 (SB168) to require pulse ox screening for newborns is currently moving through the South Dakota Legislature, gaining broad, bipartisan support.
  • Wisconsin – Legislation with strong, bi-partisan support and a broad group of stakeholder support was circulated in early February and is expected to be introduced in early March.


To learn more about the efforts to increase pulse ox screening among newborns, visit


Related Content

Edwards Inspiris Resilia Valve Receives FDA Approval
News | Heart Valve Technology| September 21, 2017
Edwards Lifesciences Corp. recently received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for its Inspiris Resilia...
Sentinel Cerebral Protection System Significantly Reduces Stroke and Mortality in TAVR
News | Embolic Protection Devices| September 18, 2017
September 18, 2017 – Claret Medical announced publication of a new study in the...
Fysicon Receives FDA Approval for QMAPP Hemodynamic Monitoring System
Technology | Hemodynamic Monitoring Systems| September 18, 2017
Fysicon announced that it has been granted 510(k) clearance by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its...
NIAID Scientists Illuminate Mechanism of Increased Cardiovascular Risks With HIV
News | Cardiac Diagnostics| September 14, 2017
September 14, 2017 — Scientists at the National Institutes of Health have expanded the understanding of how chronic i
Marijuana Associated With Three-Fold Risk of Death From Hypertension
News | Hypertension| September 14, 2017
Marijuana use is associated with a three-fold risk of death from hypertension, according to research published recently...
Sponsored Content | Videos | Structural Heart Occluders| September 13, 2017
Ziyad Hijazi, M.D., MPH, MSCAI, FACC, director of the cardiac program and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Si
News | Cardiac Diagnostics| September 12, 2017
Contracting shingles, a reactivation of the chickenpox virus, increases a person’s risk of stroke and heart attack,...
Vascular screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm, peripheral artery disease and hypertension during the VIVA Study in Denmark

Vascular screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm, peripheral artery disease and hypertension during the VIVA Study. Photo credit: Lisbeth Hasager Justesen, Viborg Hospital.

News | Cardiac Diagnostics| September 12, 2017
September 12, 2017 — A new screening program for vascular disease saves one life for every 169 men assessed, accordin
TCT 2017 late-breaking trials and studies that will be presented on the latest cardiology technology clinical trials.
Feature | September 11, 2017
September 11, 2017 — From numerous high-quality submissions, Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics (TCT) has sele
LAA closure during open heart surgery in the LAACS Study showed better outcomes for all patients.

LAA closure during open heart surgery in the LAACS Study showed better outcomes for all patients.

Feature | Left Atrial Appendage (LAA) Occluders| September 07, 2017
September 7, 2017 — Closure of the left atrial appendage (LAA) during heart surgery protects the brain, according to
Overlay Init