Purplegerberas's Blog

A rambling collection of my thoughts about life, my children and crafty things

Pulse oximetry screening

on August 16, 2011

I have a new bee in my bonnet for congential heart defects.

At the moment not all heart defects are detected. Some are found during antenatal screening but not all.  At birth all babies are examined by a doctor and a check of the heart is part of this but again, not all heart problems are picked up by this.

Samuel was one of the missed babies. Despite being seen by several people during the first weeks of his life his heart defect was not diagnosed until he was seriously ill. He was admitted with breathing problems and had been in hospital overnight, being treated for a chest infection when his heart murmur was first heard. The ‘chest infection’ turned out to be severe heart failure.  A short time later he had a cardiac arrest and we went through the hell of watching him being resuscitated and then given the news that he needed to be ventilated but was actually too ill to be ventilated at that time.

We are the lucky ones. Samuel is now very well and has a normal healthy life. Congenital heart defects are the commonest form of birth defect (1 in 133 births) and one of the leading causes of childhood death.

A recent study has shown that there is a simple, cheap and effective way of increasing the detection rates of congenital heart defects in newborn babies. By checking the oxygen saturation of a baby as part of their newborn health check, the detection rate increased to 92%. This means that problems are detected earlier and treatment can start immediately before heart failure, cardiac arrest or even death can happen.

Presently, all newborns are routinely tested for deafness – this affects 1 in 1,000. They have a blood test to screen for PKU and MCADD – each affecting 1 in 10,000. A range of other conditions, all rarer than heart defects are screened.

Pulse oximetry is quick, simple, painless, and cheap, using equipment that is already widely available within healthcare settings. For me it is a simple decision and by introducing this as a routine part of the screening programme lives could be saved and many babies could be diagnosed and treated before becoming seriously ill.

So I have created a petition, asking the Department of Health to include pulse oximetry testing as part of the newborn screening programme

Please sign my petition


One response to “Pulse oximetry screening

  1. […] Federation is holding a workshop in London to discuss the Think Heart campaign and also the use of pulse oximetry testing at birth (something else I feel would have prevented us going through a lot of trauma).  Following […]

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