September 1st marked the initiation of Newborn Critical Congenital Heart Disease Screening (CCHD)

September 1st marked the initiation of Newborn Critical Congenital Heart Disease Screening (CCHD)

pulse ox hand1Congenital Heart Disease is the most common birth defect, affecting 8 in 1000 infants. Critical Congenital Heart Disease (CCHD) brings a significant risk of morbidity and mortality if not diagnosed soon after birth. The goal of CCHD screening using pulse oximetry is to identify those newborns with critical heart defects before they leave the hospital.  Early intervention is associated with better outcomes.  CCHD screening has been endorsed by Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, the American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology, American Academy of Pediatrics, and the March of Dimes.

Maryland became the first state to pass CCHD screening legislation, and universal screening of all infants began on September 1st, 2012. A diverse group of health leaders were selected to participate in the National Leadership Academy for the Public’s Health program.  Among the expert panel represented by several disciplines is AAMC’s NICU nurse educator Cindy Mueller RN. Cindy is the only nurse representative, and her input from the nurse’s perspective was valuable in planning the implementation of newborn CCHD screening. “It is an honor for me to be a part of this team, and for the state of Maryland being on the forefront of legislation that could save babies’ lives,” quotes Cindy.

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