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Critical congenital heart disease

Newborns in Utah undergo screening tests to identify serious or life-threatening conditions that aren’t otherwise apparent at birth. Such disorders are rare, but screening, early identification and treatment can save baby from lifelong health and developmental problems. Newborn screening in Utah consists of 3 screenings:

  • Pulse Oximetry (CCHD) Screening
  • Hearing Screening
  • Heelstick Blood Spot Screening

All 3 screens should be completed regardless of whether you baby is born in a hospital, birthing center, or at home.

What is Critical Congenital heart disease?

Critical congenital heart disease (CCHD) is a group of heart defects that can cause life-threatening problems which need to be treated within the first days or first year of life.

What is pulse oximetry screening?

Pulse oximetry is a painless and non-invasive way to measure the amount of oxygen in blood. Light is passed through the skin and measured by a sensor to determine the percent oxygen saturation. Babies with an abnormally low oxygen saturation in their blood will need further testing for critical congenital heart disease or other problems which can cause low oxygen saturations.

How is the screening done?

The screen is completed between 24-48 hours of age, usually your baby’s nurse will put a small sensor, called a probe on the baby’s right hand and either foot. The probe measures the oxygen in your baby’s blood.

How are the results of the screen determined?

Most babies will pass this screening the first time and will not need any more screens; A small number of babies will need to have the pulse oximetry repeated. Babies with low oxygen levels on repeated screens will usually need to have another test called an echocardiogram to determine if they have a problem with their heart. It is important to understand that pulse oximetry screening will not identify all babies who have problems with their hearts, as some babies may have normal oxygen levels at the time of the screen.

Why do the screening?

The reason pulse oximetry screening is done is to identify and treat babies with serious heart problems that are not found during prenatal care or routine newborn care.