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Study: Mandatory infant screening linked with lower CCHD deaths :

December 28, 2017

Mandatory screening of infants for critical congenital heart disease (CCHD) was linked with significantly decreased rates of related deaths, according to a new study.

States requiring screening saw a 33% decrease in CCHD deaths and a 21% decrease in other congenital cardiac deaths relative to other states.

“More families are able to celebrate special milestones in a child’s life thanks to the early identification and treatment of heart defects,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., said in a news release. “Screening newborns for critical congenital heart disease in every state, tribe, and territory will save lives and help babies thrive.”

CCHD occurs in 200 per 100,000 births, according to the study “Association of US State Implementation of Newborn Screening Policies for Critical Congenital Heart Disease With Early Infant Cardiac Deaths” (Abouk R, et al. JAMA, Dec. 5, 2017, In 2011, federal health authorities added pulse oximetry screening for CCHD to the U.S. Recommended Uniform Screening Panel for newborns, a move backed by the Academy.

Researchers used data from the National Center for Health Statistics from 2007-’13 to look at the impact of the recommendation. During that time, there were 2,734 CCHD deaths and 3,967 other/unspecified congenital cardiac deaths, according to the study. Those deaths dropped about 2.8% and 1.8%, respectively each year from 2007-’12. From 2012-’13, CCHD deaths dropped 16.8%, while other/unspecified cardiac deaths dropped 13.2%.

The authors also looked specifically at the eight states that implemented mandatory screening policies between August 2011 and June 2013 and found a 33.4% relative decrease in CCHD deaths relative to previous years and other states, a decrease of 3.9 deaths per 100,000 births.

Deaths from other/unspecified cardiac causes dropped 21.4% in states with mandatory screening relative to other states with an absolute decline of 3.5 deaths per 100,000 births.

Alex R. Kemper, M.D., M.P.H., M.S., FAAP, who co-authored implementation strategies for screening, co-wrote an editorial responding to the new data and called the findings reassuring as nearly all states now have CCHD screening requirements.

“… the evidence is now sufficient to declare newborn screening for critical congenital heart disease a successful public health intervention,” according to the editorial. “Additional data are needed to provide more specific information about what aspects of the critical congenital heart disease newborn screening requirements are most effective in improving health outcomes.”

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