HealthWACH: New test to save newborn hearts



The most common type of birth defect is congenital heart defect. This complication begins at birth and may continue through childhood. This affects the heart valves, arteries and veins surrounding the heart and disturbs the blood flow through the heart. Tests are done when babies are born to check for this defect, but it is not required in all states. This fatal disease does not cause many symptoms and it is hard to catch at a young age.

Sometimes doctors can detect heart disease while the mother is pregnant. In other cases, newborns are diagnosed with a heart disease at birth. Pain is not usually a symptom, but poor blood circulation, fatigue, rapid breathing, and a bluish tint to the fingernails, lips, and skin are common signs that a newborn has congenital heart disease. A heart murmur may also be detected if newborns are diagnosed with a heart disease, which is an abnormal blood flow through the heart.

Depending on the severity of the disease, a child may or may not need to be treated. If treatment is needed, then a catheter or surgery can repair the irregularity. If the disease cannot be treated with the use of a catheter, then doctors perform open-heart surgery to fix the defect.

A pulse oximetry screening is now being performed on newborns across the U.S. with the exception of a few states. Newborns are tested for heart defects in hospitals just moments after birth to detect any potential or current heart complications. Before performing the screening, doctors place a probe on the infantâ??s foot then they begin the screening. The blood oxygen level is measured by light source and sensors which determine how healthy the heart is. The test screens for the seven most vital heart diseases to save the lives of newborns and prevent further complications. This procedure provides comfort and relief to parents as they feel that their child is in good health.