Universal newborn screening for congenital heart disease in US

4 October 2011

The Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Heritable Disorders in Newborns and Children (SACHDNC) has recommended the inclusion of Critical Congenital Heart Disease (CCHD) as one of the conditions that should be included in all newborn screening programmes in the US.
Congenital forms of heart disease accounts for around 3% of infant deaths in the US. Most babies born with CCHD are identified prenatally or soon after birth due to observed heart anomalies or symptoms, but some cases are not picked up until later. Many of the conditions that collectively make up CCHD can be treated.
The US Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has now decided to adopt the SACHDNC recommendation and include a pulse oximetry test for CCHD in newborn screening programmes, along with existing blood spot analysis and hearing tests. This approach was endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) earlier this year.
Comment: Even countries with well-developed health systems such as the US and UK may be able to improve detection and care for congenital disorders, also known as birth defects, by building on new evidence as it becomes available. The Born Healthy campaign established by the PHG Foundation aims to make prevention, diagnosis and care for birth defects a priority around the world, and provides a new tool to help plan appropriate services in low and middle income countries.

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