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Report Outlines Strategy for National Newborn Screening For Congenital Heart Disease

8/22/2011  

Newborn screening tests have led to dramatic improvements in the identification and treatment of a variety of conditions. A federal advisory committee has proposed adding a screening test for congenital heart disease (CHD), which is responsible for more deaths in the first year of life than any other birth defect.

In a report to be published in the November 2011 issue of Pediatrics, authors outline a strategy for national screening for CHD, using a simple, noninvasive test called pulse oximetry that measures oxygen in blood. A preprint of the manuscript, “Strategies for Implementing Screening for Critical Congenital Heart Disease,” will be posted online Monday, Aug. 22.

The report is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Cardiology Foundation and the American Heart Association. Based on a review of the scientific evidence, the report authors made recommendations for a standard approach to screening and follow-up, and identified key issues for further research and evaluation. Individual states will determine whether to add CHD testing to their panel of newborn screening tests, and this report will give guidance to those states and hospitals looking to implement screening. (New Jersey will begin screening for CHD on Aug. 31 for all babies before discharge.)

The authors recognize the challenges of implementing a new screening program and endorse efforts underway to develop a national implementation plan.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.