New Heart Disease Screening Offered to Newborns at Texas Health Harris Methodist Fort Worth|
FORT WORTH, Texas — A new, simple health screening for babies born at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth may help save little lives and give parents peace of mind.
Starting last month, newborns at the hospital now receive screening for critical congenital heart disease, one of the most common types of birth defects, in addition to standard health screenings. About 4,800 babies born each year in the United States have a critical congenital heart defect, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Babies with critical congenital heart disease can appear perfectly healthy in the hospital since symptoms often don’t appear for days after birth, said Dr. Mary Frances Lynch, neonatologist on the medical staff at Texas Health Fort Worth. If left undetected, infants can develop shock and die suddenly.
“If we can catch critical congenital heart disease early, surgery can be performed to help stabilize the baby’s heart before he or she becomes sick,” Lynch said. “Doing this preventive screening for our babies is the right thing to do.”
Doctors use a simple bedside test called pulse oximetry to determine whether a baby is at risk for critical congenital heart disease. The screening is performed when a baby is 24 to 48 hours old, is painless and takes only a few minutes. Sensors placed on the baby’s skin read the amount of oxygen in the blood and pulse rate. Low levels of oxygen in the blood can signal a potential heart problem and the need for additional testing.
For more information on the hospital’s women and infants services, visit TexasHealth.org/FortWorth.
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