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Home News Heart Disease Screening for Newborns
Kenny Vigil
505-841-5871 Office
505-470-2290 Mobile

Heart Disease Screening for Newborns

The New Mexico Department of Health and the New Mexico Chapter of the March of Dimes announced today that all New Mexico hospitals will implement screening all newborns for Critical Congenital Heart Disease (CCHD). Some hospitals are already screening for CCHD and the other remaining hospitals are poised to come on board August 1, 2014.

Earlier this year, Governor Susana Martinez signed House Bill 9 into law. It requires non-invasive testing for Critical Congenital Heart Disease. CCHD is a group of heart defects that cause severe, life-threatening symptoms. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that each year, about 7,200 infants are born with CCHD. Sometimes babies with CCHD appear healthy and are sent home before the heart defect is detected, according to the March of Dimes.

“Testing for Critical Congenital Heart Disease is vital because these disorders may not be apparent early on, but newborns with CCHD often need life saving interventions quickly,” said Department of Health Secretary Retta Ward, MPH. “The new testing requirement will offer New Mexico parents some peace of mind when they take their baby home knowing that they’ve been screened for heart defects.”

The Department of Health has been working closely over the past six months with hospitals to provide educational and training resources for staff about the required screening and also working with a team of pediatric specialty experts from the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center and Presbyterian Hospital to standardize procedures.

Hospitals will use a non-invasive instrument for screening called a pulse oximeter, which uses a sensor placed on the skin to identify the pulse rate, as well as low levels of oxygen in the blood, a sign of CCHD. This technology is the most effective way to detect serious health problems in otherwise well-appearing newborns. If the baby screens positive for oxygen levels that are too low, further testing can be done, such as an echocardiogram, which is an ultrasound picture of the heart.

“The New Mexico Chapter of the March of Dimes is proud of Governor Martinez, our State Legislators, and the Department of Health for taking a bold move to ensure that every baby is given the best chance at a healthy start in life. This non-invasive addition to newborn screening is a crucial step in continuing to build healthier communities and families,” said March of Dimes State Director Becky Horner.

For more information, please contact Brenda Romero at 505-476-8857.

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