Pediatricians Suggest All Newborns Be Tested For Congenital Heart Defects

Pediatricians Suggest All Newborns Be Tested
The standard test for congential heart defects is pulse oximetry, a non-invasive measure of oxygen in the body involving a sensor placed on a the body. In the case of newborns, the sensor is placed on the foot. Photo by Dmitry Naumov/Shutterstock

WASHINGTON, Dec. 8 (UPI) — Congenital heart defects are the most common type of birth defect. And while most children are screened for them within 24 hours of birth, a pediatricians’ group included a recommendation for all newborns to be screened with a new list of children’s health guidelines released this week.

The American Academy of Pediatrics issued new guidelines for children of all ages to screened for a wide range of conditions and diseases. Some of the conditions, such as depression, HIV, and high blood pressure, can become progressive diseases that may affect them later in life.

The new guideline says all newborns should be screened using pulse oximetry, which measures the level of oxygen in a baby’s blood. The test can indicate a heart defect that prevents blood from passing through the lungs properly because it changes the normal flow of blood.

The most common method of testing involves placing a sensor on a thin part of a patient’s body — a foot, in the case of newborns.

Newborn screening often includes a physical examination, however does not always include the oxygen test, despite already existing recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for newborns to be screened at 24 hours of age, or as late as possible if the child will be discharged before 24 hours.

Congenital heart defects can cause lifelong health issues, among them neurodevelopmental and cognitive delays. A recent study showed that, even with surgery to correct a CHD, delays can occur, and parents and doctors should pay attention to feeding and growth, both of which can indicate further complications from the condition.


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