CCHD Test Becomes A Required Routine For Metabolic Screening

Critical congenital heart defects can go undetected in newborns, which is why the CCHD test was implemented, saving numerous lives as a result.

A quick test shortly after birth that shows how a baby’s heart is performing was not required by states until recently, but now that it is part of the screening process before a baby and mom can leave the hospital, the CCHD test has proven to save countless babies’ lives yearly.

Every year, newborns are born with a critical congenital heart defect (CCHD), according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. In years past, it was not known that a baby had one because after birth, many times, according to the Centers for Disease Control, there is no indication that a baby is in distress. It is not until the newborn goes home that over days to weeks there are signs that the baby’s health is declining, which results in the need for emergency intervention. Without care, the results can be detrimental to the baby’s overall health.

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Fortunately, according to the Bradenton Herald, most states have taken the steps to make it a requirement for babies to undergo pulse oximetry screening, a painless test that checks the levels of oxygen in the baby’s blood. It does this by placing a monitoring strip on the baby’s foot and hand, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. For those babies who show normal levels of oxygen in their blood, they pass the test. Those that have results that come back as low, fail the test.

In 2017, according to the Bradenton Herald, there were only eight states that required that the CCHD testing be done before a baby was discharged from the hospital. As a result of the tests being done, those eight states showed a “33{b4bb8ddb70249670c85c66def16f765bd40a90ddaa69bcee7e340d9a7e1b07a9} decrease in CCHD deaths” as well as a “21{b4bb8ddb70249670c85c66def16f765bd40a90ddaa69bcee7e340d9a7e1b07a9} decrease in other congenital cardiac deaths.”

It was not, however, until 2021 that 49 states, including the District of Columbia, required the CCHD testing to be done, which, according to Gateway AAP News and Journals, caused “numerous infants’ lives” to be “saved or improved as a result.”

The only state, according to the Bradenton Herald, that does not require the CCHD testing to be done, is California. However, it is an optional screening that is offered.

The test, regardless of which state it is performed in, is $10.00.

While the test is incredibly important to help rule out the possibility of heart problems in babies, the CDC does point out that not all babies’ heart conditions will present with low levels of oxygen in the blood. While it is not highly likely, even if a baby does pass the CCHD test, there is a possibility that a heart condition does exist.

However, for many heart conditions that do result in lowered oxygen levels in the blood, doing a simple test to rule them out, or, show that they are present, is important so that if necessary, a baby can receive critical care at the earliest time possible to be able to live a normal, healthy, happy life, free from illness.

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Source: Bradenton Herald, Centers for Disease Control, Gateway AAP News and Journals, American Academy of Pediatrics

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