February 7 to 14 is Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week.

February 7 to 14 is Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week. Nearly one in 100 babies are born with a congenital heart defect, and less than half are diagnosed before birth.


That’s where newborn screening comes into the picture. In 2011, Secretary of Health Kathleen Sebelius approved the addition of critical congenital heart disease to the recommended uniform screening panel. Critical congenital heart disease (CCHD) is a subset of heart defects that often present with low oxygen saturation after birth. Pulse oximetry can alert clinicians to low oxygen saturation.

After the federal recommendation, several states have taken up the charge. CCHD screening-related legislation has passed in nine states. Seven states (Indiana, New Jersey, West Virginia, Connecticut, Maryland, Tennessee and New Hampshire) are currently screening every baby because of mandates.

Other hospitals have started screening programs without legislation.

Save Babies Through Screening Foundation is advocating for the addition of CCHD screening to the state panel in every state, and we’re currently working in several states to help pass legislation.

CCHD screening is different than traditional newborn screening, and like hearing screening is known as a “point of care” screening. The screen happens sometimes after the baby is 24 hours old and results are available to clinicians immediately.

Take some time during congenital heart defect awareness week to learn more about newborn screening for congenital heart defects, the newest addition to the federal recommended uniform screening panel.

Blog posts are written by both Save Babies Through Screening Foundation representatives and others not officially affiliated with the foundation. Posts do not necessarily reflect the views of SBTS. Posts are not medical advice. Please talk to your physician.

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