New Heart Disease Screening Offered to Newborns at Texas Health Stephenville|
STEPHENVILLE, Texas — A new, simple health screening for babies born at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Stephenville may help save little lives and give parents peace of mind.
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 Jeffrey Edwards, M.D., Texas Health Stephenville chief quality officer and a family medicine physician on the hospital’s medical staff. If left undetected, infants can develop shock and die suddenly.
“If we catch critical congenital heart disease early, the infant identified at risk can be transferred to another hospital or referred to a neonatal cardiologist for appropriate follow-up,” said Edwards. “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.
Edwards noted that the location for weekday (6 a.m. to 6 p.m.) registration for labor and delivery patients has been changed to the hospital’s Belknap Street lobby, across from the gift shop. Registration for nights and weekends remains at the Graham Street lobby.
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Doctors on the medical staff practice independently and are not employees or agents of the hospital.