Congenital Heart Defects Screening

Pulse Oximetry

Up to 3% of infant deaths are due to congenital heart defects; they are more common than Down Syndrome, affecting about 1 in 125 pregnancies, but they are often not as widely discussed. Despite antenatal ultrasound scans and newborn physical examinations, about 50% remain undiagnosed in the early stages. Sadly, many of these babies will go on to develop serious complications that may be fatal. Identifying problems early on allows decisions to be made about treatment, surgery and/or longer-term care if needed.

Ideally babies should be checked within 24 hours of delivery or as soon as possible afterwards. Pulse oximetry is a simple test which measures blood oxygen levels in newborns by using a small skin sensor placed on the hands or feet. A major British study on more than 20,000 apparently healthy newborn babies showed it can identify babies with congenital heart defects – and other important health problems – who would otherwise be missed by the routine baby check before you go home from hospital.

The screening programme in Innermost Healthcare is backed up by referral to a Consultant Paediatric Cardiologist if required.