Posts Tagged ‘pulse oximetry’

Why newborn screening is important

Wednesday, September 5th, 2018

Newborn screening tests check for rare but serious and mostly treatable conditions. Babies with these conditions often look healthy at birth. If a health condition is found early with newborn screening, it often can be treated. This may help avoid more serious health problems for your baby. Newborn screening includes blood, hearing and heart tests.

When is newborn screening done?

All babies in the United States get newborn screening before they leave the hospital, usually when they are 1 or 2 days old. If your baby is not born in a hospital, talk to her health care provider about getting newborn screening before she is 7 days old. Some states require that babies have newborn screening again, about 2 weeks later.

How is newborn screening done?

Newborn screening has three parts:

  1. Blood test. Your baby’s heel is pricked to get a few drops of blood. The blood is collected on a special paper and sent to a lab for testing. The lab then sends the results back to your baby’s health provider.
  2. Hearing screening. The provider places a tiny, soft speaker in your baby’s ear to check how your baby responds to sound.
  3. Heart screening. This test is called pulse oximetry. It checks the amount of oxygen in your baby’s blood by using a sensor attached to his finger or foot. This test is used to screen babies for a heart condition called critical congenital heart disease (also called CCHD). CCHD is the most severe heart defects. Babies with CCHD need treatment within the first few hours, days or months of life. Without treatment, CCHD can be deadly.

What happens with the tests results?

Most newborn screening results are normal. If your baby’s results are normal, you won’t hear back about them. But you always can ask your baby’s provider for the results.

In rare cases when the screening results aren’t normal, you’ll get a phone call about 2 to 3 weeks after the testing. This call can come from someone at your state’s newborn screening program or from your baby’s health care provider. If you get a call about your baby’s results, don’t panic. Most of the time your baby simply needs more testing.

Your baby’s provider then recommends another kind of test, called a diagnostic test, to see if there is a health problem. If the diagnostic test results are normal, no more testing is needed. If the diagnostic test results are not normal, your provider can guide you about next steps for your baby.

How many health conditions should your baby be screened for?

March of Dimes would like to see all babies in all states screened for at least 34 health conditions. Many of these health conditions can be treated if found early. Each state decides which tests are required. You can find out which conditions your state screens for at babyfirsttest.org.

Learn more about newborn screening at: marchofdimes.org

What is tetralogy of Fallot?

Friday, May 5th, 2017

You have probably heard about Jimmy Kimmel’s baby, Billy, being born with a critical congenital heart defect called tetralogy of Fallot (TOF). Fortunately, Billy received lifesaving heart surgery and is home from the hospital, reportedly doing well.

Congenital heart defects are the most common types of birth defects. Nearly 1 in 100 babies (about 1 percent or 40,000 babies) is born with a heart defect in the United States each year. And critical congenital heart disease (CCHD) is a group of the seven most severe congenital heart defects. About 4,800 babies each year are born with a CCHD. Babies with CCHD need treatment within the first few hours, days or months of life. Without treatment, CCHD can be deadly.

TOF is a rare congenital heart defect that affects about 1,660 babies each year in the United States. Babies born with this condition actually have four different problems with their heart. According to the CDC, they are:

  1. A hole in the wall between the two lower chambers―or ventricles―of the heart. This condition also is called a ventricular septal defect.
  2. A narrowing of the pulmonary valve and main pulmonary artery. This condition also is called pulmonary stenosis.
  3. The aortic valves, which opens to the aorta, is enlarged and seems to open from both ventricles, rather than from the left ventricle only, as in a normal heart. In this defect, the aortic valve sits directly on top of the ventricular septal defect.
  4. The muscular wall of the lower right chamber of the heart (right ventricle) is thicker than normal. This also is called ventricular hypertrophy.

Signs and Symptoms

After birth, signs and symptoms of heart defects can include:

  • Fast breathing
  • Gray or blue skin coloring (also called cyanosis)
  • Fatigue (feeling tired all of the time)
  • Slow weight gain
  • Swollen belly, legs or puffiness around the eyes
  • Trouble breathing while feeding
  • Sweating, especially while feeding
  • Abnormal heart murmur (unusual sounds heard during a heartbeat)

Diagnosis

TOF can be diagnosed during pregnancy or after birth. During a prenatal ultrasound a doctor may be able to determine that there is a problem with the baby’s heart. A fetal echocardiogram (an ultrasound of just the heart) would then be ordered for further testing. An echocardiogram is an ultrasound of the baby’s heart that can show problems with the structure of the heart and how the heart is working.

However, TOF is usually diagnosed after the baby is born. In most cases, health care providers detect a heart murmur (often a “whooshing” sound heard between heartbeats) or cyanosis (baby’s skin turns blue).

To confirm the presence of a CCHD, a health care provider will order an echocardiogram.

TOF and CCHD can also be detected with newborn screening. Newborn screening checks for serious but rare conditions at birth. It includes blood, hearing and heart screening. All states require newborn screening, but they don’t all require screening for CCHD. Babies are screened for CCHD with a test called pulse oximetry (also called pulse ox). This test checks the amount of oxygen in your baby’s blood using a sensor attached to his finger or foot.

Treatment

Babies born with TOF need to have surgery soon after they are born to widen the pulmonary valve. This allows the blood to reach the lungs and become oxygenated. They will also correct the hole between the lower chambers of the heart. And additional surgeries to replace valves may also be required.

Most babies born with TOF go on to be active and healthy, but they will need to be followed by a cardiologist throughout their lives. We’re glad Jimmy Kimmel’s baby received prompt care and continues to do well.

Research

Heart defects develop in the early weeks of pregnancy when the heart is forming, often before you know you’re pregnant and most of the time, there is no known cause of a congenital heart defect. That is why many March of Dimes grantees are pursuing a variety of approaches aimed at preventing heart defects and improving their treatment.