Michigan Babies Will Now Benefit from Screening for Critical Congenital Heart Disease

Contact: Angela Minicuci (517) 241-2112


LANSING – Every Michigan newborn is screened shortly after birth for 54 different disorders through bloodspots that are sent to the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH). Beginning April 1, 2014, Michigan will join 31 other states that have added pulse oximetry screening to their newborn screening tests to detect critical congenital heart disease (CCHD) in newborns.

“Across the country, an estimated 300 babies are sent home from hospitals each year with undetected congenital heart problems,” said Dr. Matthew Davis, Chief Medical Executive with the MDCH. “This simple non-invasive screening can save lives, giving Michigan’s newborns a chance at a healthy start, which is what every baby deserves.”

Congenital heart defects are the most common of birth defects, affecting nine in 1,000 newborns. The most severe types, called critical congenital heart disease, require surgery or catheter intervention in the first year of life. CCHD remains one of the most significant causes of infant death in the United States. A simple non-invasive test called pulse oximetry helps detect CCHD in newborns. Failure to detect CCHD early puts the baby at risk for death or other serious complications within the first few days or weeks of life, often requiring emergency room care.

“As a mother of a child born with CCHD I am thankful there is a screening tool for newborns,” said Jenny Lincoln of Midland, Mich., mom to Aly, and parent advocate for CCHD. “Just knowing that children like my daughter can be given a chance at life by catching their defects soon after birth shows the importance of screening. It gives these children their chance to fight, and early diagnosis is key.”

In September 2011, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) approved the addition of CCHD screening to the federally recommended uniform newborn screening panel, and the recommendation was later endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Michigan received a Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant beginning in 2012 to assist in implementing a statewide CCHD screening program.

About 65 Michigan birthing hospitals currently screen for CCHD, and 14 more plan to offer the screening soon. MDCH began a demonstration project using the HRSA grant to work with birthing hospitals on the voluntary use of this screening. When the demonstration began, less than half of the Michigan birthing hospitals were screening. Through education and outreach, MDCH has been able to assist hospitals in implementing screening programs prior to the addition of CCHD screening to the mandatory newborn screening panel.

For more information about CCHD, visit www.michigan.gov/cchd.

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