Congenital heart disease is one of the main defects found in the new-born babies. These are caused by the abnormal development of heart in the foetal stages. The structural defects of the heart require immediate attention and mostly need surgical correction with in the few months from the birth. Some of the congenital heart defects in the new born are fatal and are referred as critical congenital heart defects or collectively referred as critical congenital heart disease (CCHD).
One of the studies shows that nearly eight out of thousand new-born babies are diagnosed with congenital heart diseases, and two babies out of those eight diagnosed congenital heart patients are with CCHD. It was found that more than 24% of infant deaths are due to the heart defects.
New-born screening with a pulse oximetry machine was found to be quick, inexpensive and an effective screening tool in diagnosing CCHD. Most of the physical symptoms like the cyanosis (bluish discoloration of the skin), tachypnea (rapid breathing) and heart murmurs, may not be detected before discharge of the new-born from the hospital. Pulse oximetry is a non-invasive monitoring which measures the oxygen saturation and hypoxemia (deficiency of oxygen in arterial blood) by keeping an infrared light probe on the hand or foot of the new born for a short time. Critical congenital heart disease lesions can also be detected by the pulse oximetry screening within 48 hours of the birth of the young one.
American Academy of Paediatrics (AAD) and American Heart Association (AHA) published a statement in August 2009 that pulse oximetry is a viable strategy for the early diagnosis of the CCHD. It is also recommended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in September 2011 to ensure heart health to the young ones.
Early detection of the disease can direct the patient to surgical procedures or to the further investigations like an echocardiogram which might increase the survival chances of the baby.