Infant deaths from critical congenital heart disease (CCHD) decreased more than 33 percent in eight states that mandated screening for CCHD using a test called pulse oximetry. In addition, deaths from other or unspecified cardiac causes decreased by 21 percent.
Pulse oximetry is a simple bedside test to determine the amount of oxygen in a baby’s blood and the baby’s pulse rate. Low levels of oxygen in the blood can be a sign of a CCHD.
CCHD screening nationwide could save at least 120 babies each year, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. This study is the first look at the impact of state policies to either require or recommend screening of infants for CCHD at birth.