Newborns to be screened for Critical Congenital Heart Disease

A new law will require newborns to be screened for critical congenital heart disease.

Beginning January 1st, Missouri law will require every newborn infant born in the state to be screened for critical congenital heart disease.

Congenital heart defects are the most common type of birth defect in the United States, affecting approximately 1 percent of births each year. The screening is a non-invasive method using pulse oximetry to measure the amount of oxygen in the baby's blood.

The Northeast Regional Hospital has been doing the congenital heart screenings for some time, and believes that screenings will prevent babies from being sent home with the risk of developing serious complications within the first few weeks of life.

"It's a very great test because it won't detect every heart disease, but it will detect a good percentage of ones that could be very detrimental within the first few days to weeks of life. And it's non-invasive, it doesn't cause problems, there's no radiation, it's inexpensive and it can be easily done without harm to the infant," said Brett Moore, a Pediatric Physician.

Missouri will join approximately 33 other states that have added critical congenital heart disease to the list of disorders for which newborns are screened shortly after birth.