The American Heart Association continues to support and advocate for pulse oximetry screening for all Virginia’s newborns to improve identification of congenital cardiovascular defects. We ask that VAC citation: 12VAC5-71, Regulations Governing Virginia Newborn Screening Services, be retained in its current form as a matter of public health. Congenital cardiovascular defects, also known as congenital heart defects (CHD) take a significant financial and emotional toll on families in the state of Virginia and across the country. Pulse oximetry screening can help identify newborns at risk for heart defects and potentially save their lives.
Pulse oximetry screening is a non-invasive, inexpensive test conducted on newborns before they leave the hospital, in conjunction with current CHD screening methods. It greatly improves the effectiveness and likelihood of detecting critical or possibly life-threatening heart defects that might otherwise go undetected. In fact, new research suggests wider use of pulse oximetry screening could help identify more than 90 percent of heart defects. CHD are a real problem, and pulse oximetry screening is needed. They are the most common birth defects in the U.S. and the leading killer of infants with birth defects.
Congenital heart disease affects approximately eight of every 1,000 live births, ad one quarter of these children will require surgery or catheter intervention in the first year of life. Since the 2011 recommendation by U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to add CCHD screening to the “Recommended Uniform Screening Panel” for newborns before they are released from a hospital or birthing facility, over 45 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws requiring newborns to have pulse ox screenings prior to being discharged from the hospital. Virginia should remain a leader and retain these regulations.