HARTFORD- A bill requiring the screening of newborns for congenital heart disease was supported by State John Piscopo in the House of Representatives today.
Nearly one in three infants who die from birth defects has a heart defect. These lives could be saved with a greater emphasis on appropriately screening for heart defects before being discharged from the hospital.
“This is simple, non invasive test that can significantly improve outcomes for hundred of our state’s babies born with heart defects,” said Rep. Piscopo. “Babies discharged without a diagnosis are at risk for surgical compromise, neurological impairment, developmental delay, organ failure, and long-term feeding issues; all at huge costs to the healthcare system. These risks are a huge issue for our rural and underserved populations.”
Senate Bill 56 An Act Concerning Pulse Oximetry Screening for Newborn Infants requires all health care institutions caring for newborn infants to test them for critical congenital heart disease.
The purpose of the easy to do oximetry screening, which is a sensor is placed on a thin part of the patient’s body, usually a fingertip or earlobe, or in the case of an infant, across a foot, would be to determine the amount of oxygen in the blood and the pulse rate in newborn infants. Congenital heart disease (CHD) is a problem with the heart’s structure or function and is detectable at birth. Critical Congenital heart disease (CCHD) means the heart defect causes severe, life threatening symptoms and requires medical treatment or surgery within the first few hours, days or months of an infant’s life.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, congenital heart defects account for 24% of infant deaths due to birth defects. In the United States, about 4,800 (or 11.6 per 10,000) babies born every year have one of seven critical congenital heart defects. Babies with one of these defects are at significant risk of disability or death if not diagnosed soon after birth. Some of these defects could be detected using pulse oximetry screening, which is a test to determine the amount of oxygen in the blood and pulse rate. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has recently recommended pulse oximetry screening for congenital heart disease and planning for implementing this recommendation is already underway at many hospitals in Connecticut.
The bill now goes to the Governor for his signature.