As of 2015, 45 states, including North Dakota, and the District of Columbia required Congenital Heart Defect screenings, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Due to great legislation requiring hospitals in North Dakota to do screenings several children’s lives have been extended by the early findings and correction of a Congenital Heart Defect.
Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defects in infants, affecting about 1 percent of babies. Most are mild, but about a quarter of those are critical congenital heart defects, or CCHDs, that require surgery or a medical procedure in the first year of life. In many cases, symptoms don’t show up in a normal physical exam, but a pulse oximetry test can indicate a problem.
Pulse oximetry measures blood oxygen levels and can detect seven critical congenital heart defects that could go unnoticed and lead to a child’s death within the first year if untreated, said Alex Kemper, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of pediatrics at Duke University and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Given the increase in popularity of births assisted by midwives, it is important that all infants born in North Dakota have access to this important, life-saving screening.
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