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Pulse Oximetry May Detect Heart Defects in Infants Early

Last Updated: July 07, 2009.

Pulse oximetry of newborns may be able to detect congenital heart disease early and should be studied further for adoption as a routine newborn health assessment, according to a Scientific Statement from the American Heart Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, published online July 6 in both Circulation and Pediatrics.

TUESDAY, July 7 (HealthDay News) -- Pulse oximetry of newborns may be able to detect congenital heart disease early and should be studied further for adoption as a routine newborn health assessment, according to a Scientific Statement from the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), published online July 6 in both Circulation and Pediatrics.

William T. Mahle, M.D., and colleagues on a special AHA/AAP committee reviewed studies conducted from 1966 to 2008 on the use of pulse oximetry in newborns to detect critical congenital heart disease (CCHD).

Analyzing pooled data, the committee found that oximetry performed after 24 hours of life had an estimated sensitivity for detecting CCHD of 69.6 percent, and a positive predictive value of 47.0 percent; however, sensitivity varied radically between studies, ranging from 0 to 100 percent. False-positive results requiring further evaluation were rare, occurring in only 0.035 percent of cases.

"Currently, CCHD is not detected in some newborns until after their hospital discharge, which results in significant morbidity and occasional mortality. Furthermore, routine pulse oximetry performed on asymptomatic newborns after 24 hours of life, but before hospital discharge, may detect CCHD. Routine pulse oximetry performed after 24 hours in hospitals that have on-site pediatric cardiovascular services incurs very low cost and risk of harm," the authors write. "Future studies in larger populations and across a broad range of newborn delivery systems are needed to determine whether this practice should become standard of care in the routine assessment of the neonate."

Abstract - Circulation
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Abstract - Pediatrics
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