CHDs are a leading cause of birth defect-associated infant illness and death.1
New Jersey became the first state in the nation to pass legislation mandating all licensed birthing facilities to perform newborn pulse oximetry screening to detect critical congenital heart defects. Approximately 9 out of every 1,000 infants are born with CHD, 25% of which are considered to have critical congenital heart disease (CCHD) requiring either a catheter intervention or surgery in the first year of life. Because infants with CCHD can initially appear healthy, CCHD may be missed prior to discharge from the hospital with potentially devastating consequences including cardiovascular shock and even death. Pulse oximetry screening has the potential to increase identifying asymptomatic infants with CCHD that otherwise might be discharged from the hospital prior to diagnosis.
With funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration, the New Jersey Department of Health partnered with the New Jersey Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics to enhance efforts to increase the number of newborns identified with CCHD prior to discharge through pulse oximetry screening. The program continues to strengthen existing statewide surveillance activities, disseminate training activities and materials for health care professionals and families and provide technical assistance to support and maintain a growing network of stakeholders.
1CDC. Trends in infant mortality attributable to birth defects—United States, 1980–1995. MMWR 1998;47:773–8.