Critical Congenital Heart Disease screening now required for all newborns in Texas


HOUSTON - (July 31, 2013) - On February 1, 2013, Texas Children's Hospital began screening all newborns for Critical Congenital Heart Disease (CCHD) as part of the standard newborn screening test in the state of Texas. Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defect among newborns in the United States with nearly 40,000 children diagnosed annually. The leading cause of death in infants less than 1 year of age is CCHD; more than 4,800 infants are born with the disease each year and require immediate cardiac evaluation and intervention within the first few days or months of life. In 2011, The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association endorsed universal screening for CCHD using pulse oximetry, and last month, legislation requiring CCHD screening for all newborns in Texas was signed into law requiring all birthing facilities in the state to soon implement their own protocol for the screening test. Watch a video about CCHD screening at Texas Children's.

In July 2012, in anticipation of this legislation, Texas Children's Hospital joined 12 other rural and metropolitan birthing facilities in Texas as part of TxPOP: the Texas Pulse Oximetry Project. The project, a joint educational initiative with The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio's Department of Pediatrics which is funded through a grant from the Department of State Health Services, allowed for the development of a comprehensive educational program to implement early CCHD screening with pulse oximetry. More than 7,000 newborns in Texas have been screened so far as part of the TxPOP initiative, with more than 10,000 babies expected to be screened by the conclusion of the project.

"Infants with CCHD may have no symptoms at birth and can return to the hospital after their initial discharge in severe shock and multi-organ system failure," said Dr. Charleta Guillory, neonatologist at Texas Children's Hospital and associate professor of pediatrics - neonatology at Baylor College Medicine (BCM). "Early diagnosis and prompt treatment of CCHD can significantly reduce morbidity and mortality among newborns."

Guillory co-leads the TxPOP initiative at Texas Children's and BCM with Drs. Yvette Johnson, neonatologist, Tiffany McKee-Garrett, pediatric medicine physician, and Elena Ocampo, medical director of the single ventricle program. All newborns at Texas Children's Pavilion for Women have been screened over the past year.

The simple and pain-free screening test is done at any time after 24 hours of age but before leaving the hospital. During the test, a narrow tape with a small sensor is placed on the outside of the baby's right hand and foot, so as to measure how much oxygen is in a baby's blood. If the newborn's test result is negative, or normal, the oxygen in the baby's blood is at a standard level. A positive test result indicates that the oxygen in the baby's blood was low, suggesting a possible congenital heart disease and further evaluation.

Newborn screening with pulse oximetry has shown to be useful for the detection of the seven heart defects that cause CCHD: Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, Pulmonary Artresia (with intact atrial septum), Tetralogy of Fallot, Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return, Transposition of the Great Arteries, Tricuspid Atresia and Truncus ateriosus.

"This legislation is a promising step in the right direction," said Dr. Daniel J. Penny, chief of cardiology at Texas Children's Hospital. "Screening our newborns for CCHD within their first day of life allows us to expeditiously discover issues within a baby's heart so that, if necessary, we can intervene earlier in order to provide the best possible outcomes for our patients."

About Texas Children’s Hospital

Texas Children’s Hospital, a not-for-profit health care organization, is committed to creating a healthier future for children and women throughout the global community by leading in patient care, education and research. Consistently ranked as the best children’s hospital in Texas, and among the top in the nation, Texas Children’s has garnered widespread recognition for its expertise and breakthroughs in pediatric and women’s health. The hospital includes the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute; the Feigin Center for pediatric research; Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, a comprehensive obstetrics/gynecology facility focusing on high-risk births; Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, a community hospital in suburban West Houston; and Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands, a second community hospital planned to open in 2017. The organization also created the nation’s first HMO for children, has the largest pediatric primary care network in the country and a global health program that’s channeling care to children and women all over the world. Texas Children’s Hospital is affiliated with Baylor College of Medicine. For more information, go to www.texaschildrens.org. Get the latest news by visiting the online newsroom and Twitter at twitter.com/texaschildrens.