Gaps in Newborn Screening

Some infants are still not receiving recommended screenings at birth

(RxWiki News) Many infants are still not getting the recommended newborn screenings at birth.

The United States has some apparent gaps in newborn screening for hearing loss and critical congenital heart disease (CCHD), according to a recent report. And these gaps need to be closed to help all children have the best chance to reach their full potential, the report authors said.

"Newborn screening at birth is crucial to quickly identify infants at risk of hearing loss and congenital heart disease so they can receive early intervention and follow-up care,” said Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director, in a press release.

Around 1 in 500 babies is born with CCHD, which can include any of several severe forms of congenital heart disease. And proper screening can help detect CCHD before the babies are sent home from the hospital.

CCHD can be identified via a noninvasive and painless test referred to as pulse oximetry testing. If all birth facilities used pulse oximetry testing to screen newborns for CCHD, at least one death due to an undiagnosed CCHD could be avoided for every 200 infants with a CCHD, according to the CDC.

Additionally, nearly 2 infants per 1,000 in the United States are affected by permanent hearing loss at birth. Early diagnosis of hearing loss is critical because many children with hearing loss are considered to be at risk for developmental delays.

Babies who are diagnosed with hearing loss before 3 months old and receive intervention services before 6 months have significantly improved language development over children with hearing loss who don't receive the intervention services.

Speak with your obstetrician about your birth plan and proper screening for your baby.

This report was published in the CDC's Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report.