A new report in the journal Pediatrics discusses a screening that could help test for congenital heart disease in infants, and possibly save lives. Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that congenital heart defects is one of the biggest causes of infant death during a baby’s first year of life. A screening called pulse oximetry uses sensors to test an infant’s oxygen level. Often times, the sensors are placed on the hand and foot. A low oxygen level could indicate a heart condition in an infant.
According to Shari Roan from the Los Angeles Times:
In a report published online Sunday in the journal Pediatrics, the doctors propose nationwide screening for critical congenital heart disease using pulse oximetry, a probe placed on a hand and a foot that uses a light source and sensor to measure oxygen in the blood. Low oxygen levels signal the need for further testing to look for a heart-related problem.
In a prepared statement, lead study author Dr. Alex Kemper said:
“Screening for low-blood oxygen saturation can be an effective way to identify otherwise well-appearing babies who have undetected critical CHD,” said Alex Kemper, M.D., Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Duke University Medical Center. “One of the biggest challenges in implementing screening will be the follow-up after a positive screen.”
“Those defects are the ones that really require intervention early in life,” Kemper said to the Los Angeles Times. “The challenge is that a baby can be born with one of these heart defects and look totally normal in the nursery. But if you can fix these kids before they get really sick, they have better outcomes.”
Screenings have been limited in some hospitals across the country. However, the state of New Jersey will initiate congenital heart disease screenings on August 31st for every infant before discharge, according to a statement. The release also stated the report was endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Cardiology Foundation, and the American Heart Association.
Image: Flickr via ECohen