Baby Your Baby: Screening your child for Critical Congenital Heart Disease


(KUTV) Screening your newborn for Critical Congenital Heart Disease (CCHD) can help identify serious conditions that aren't necessarily apparent at birth.

Amy Nance, Program Manager of the Utah Birth Defect Network, stopped by 2News to educate families about newborn screenings and, specifically, the CCHD Screening that are completed on every baby born in Utah.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.