NEWBORNS AND HEART DISEASE
A WIDELY AVAILABLE TECHNIQUE CAN HELP IDENTIFY NEWBORNS WITH HEART DISEASE, ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS
Pulse oximetry is a fancy term for those devices usually placed on someone's finger, to painlessly estimate the amount of oxygen in their blood. Now a study of a few thousand newborn infants has shown the same technique can help identify those with a congenital heart defect. Michael Klag, dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, describes the findings.
KLAG: The sensitivity was 75%. That means for every 100 babies with congenital heart defects they detected 75. That was for what they termed critical cases. If you looked overall for all cases of congenital heart defects is was about 45%. This test is effective in terms of being a diagnostic screening test. :18
Pulse oximetry is already in use worldwide, so adding it to the regimen of assessments done on newborns shouldn't be an issue.
KLAG: It certainly should be considered because it's cheap and it's widely available. :04
Early detection can lead the way to early treatment of such problems, which can be life-threatening. At Johns Hopkins, I'm Elizabeth Tracey.