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Health Picture of Health

Maryland newborns to be screened for heart ailment

All newborns in Maryland will be screened for critical congenital heart disease beginning Sept. 1, state health officials announced Wednesday.

CCHD is any heart defect present at birth that can potentially cause serious illness or death in the first weeks of life.

The federal government in 2011 listed CCHD as one of the diseases it recommends screening for in newborns. 

New Jersey and Indiana are also now screening for CCHD with other states planning to begin in the near future, according to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

It is possible to diagnose CCHD by ultrasound, but at least 40 percent of cases are missed. 

Newborn screening involves the use of pulse oximetry, a painless test that involves wrapping one sensor around a baby’s hand and one around their foot to measure the saturation of oxygen in their blood, according to DHMH. The sensor uses light absorption to measure oxygen saturation, and the test takes only a few minutes. 

Nearly 140 infants are born in Maryland each year with CCHD.  

Newborn screening will not catch all cases of CCHD, but health officials hope it will improve the detection rate 

The screening may also identify other causes of low oxygen saturation in the blood, such as infections or lung disease.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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