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Pulse oximetry screening is a quick and painless procedure that measures the amount of oxygen in your baby's blood. The test is non-invasive and takes only a few minutes. Low oxygen levels can be a sign of critical congenital heart disease (CCHD) or other conditions such as breathing problems or infections.
You will be notified of your baby's pulse oximetry result by a member of your baby’s health care team performing the test. If your baby does not pass the screen, your baby's provider will arrange for further testing and evaluation to determine if your baby has a critical congenital heart disease (CCHD). Additional testing may include:
Depending on the results of follow-up testing, your baby may need to see a pediatric cardiologist (heart specialist).
Your baby will not pass if they have a low oxygen level or if there is a 3 percent difference between the reading in your baby's hand and foot. At this point, a rescreen or complete physical examination will be completed to determine why your baby did not pass the screening. There may be several reasons, including respiratory problems or infections.
Yes. Pulse oximetry screening does not detect all cases of CCHD. It is important your baby receives regular checkups with a primary care provider and that you watch for signs of CCHD.
CCHD refers to heart defects that need to be fixed early to help prevent other health problems. While prenatal ultrasounds may detect some cases of CCHD, not all can be detected before birth. Without screening shortly after birth, babies with CCHD are sometimes sent home without care because they appear healthy. These babies can develop serious health problems at home and often require emergency care, However, if CCHD is detected early, infants can receive treatment, leading to better outcomes.