Simple Screening Can Detect Serious Heart Condition in Newborns - Adventist HealthCare

News Release

Media Contact: Loren Nix
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Published on June 10, 2010

Simple Screening Can Detect Serious Heart Condition in Newborns

Shady Grove Adventist Hospital Is First in Montgomery County to Use Pulse Oximetry to Screen Infants for Congenital Heart Disease

Rockville, Md. - Congenital heart disease (CHD) is the most common birth defect, affecting eight of every 1,000 newborns. Yet, signs of the serious condition may not be visible immediately after birth. On May 3, Shady Grove Adventist Hospital became the first hospital in Montgomery County to implement standard pulse oximetry screening, which can detect CHD, for newborns.

"Shady Grove Adventist Hospital is pleased to provide this screening to potentially save lives and improve the outcomes for our youngest patients," said Tony Slonim, MD, Shady Grove's Chief Medical Officer and a critical care pediatrician.

CHD can involve various forms of heart defects that can impact different parts of the heart including veins, valves, arteries and connections within the heart. Failing to detect critical CHD in an infant could lead to cardiogenic shock (inadequate circulation of blood) or death. For babies with CHD who survive, late detection could lead to developmental delay or neurologic injury.

Many doctors use physical examination to detect CHD. Symptoms can include a heart murmur, slow growth or difficulty breathing. Shady Grove Adventist is taking the lead in Montgomery County to use pulse oximetry (pulse ox) to measure the amount of oxygen in the blood to help diagnose CHD in newborns. This is a noninvasive and painless procedure that is done 24 hours after birth, in conjunction with other newborn screenings.

"Pulse oximetry may help identify critical congenital heart disease before an infant becomes critically ill and requires sometimes life-saving procedures," explained James Rost, MD, Director of the Neonatal Unit. "By detecting the condition early, we can work with parents and pediatricians on a plan of care."

If a pulse ox screening detects CHD, further tests may be performed in consultation with the infant's pediatrician as well as the skilled team in Shady Grove Adventist's level IIIB neonatal intensive care unit.

"This important screening is part of the high-quality care that moms and babies receive at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital's Birthing Center," said Terry Francis, RNC, BSN, Director of Perinatal Services. "Our goal is always to have a healthy mom and healthy baby, but we are also prepared to provide the highest level of care when health issues arise."

Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, is a not-for-profit, acute care facility in Rockville, Maryland, with 320 licensed beds. Shady Grove is committed to delivering excellent health care through a ministry of physical, mental and spiritual healing. The hospital offers a broad range of health services and is recognized for excellence in emergency care; high-risk obstetrical and neonatal care; cardiac and vascular interventional care oncology care; several surgical specialties; and a number of specialized services for children. The Shady Grove Adventist Emergency Center in Germantown provides emergency medical care to more than 35,000 residents each year. Shady Grove Adventist Hospital is part of Maryland-based Adventist HealthCare, an integrated health care delivery system that is one of the largest employers in the state of Maryland.