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Michigan Newborns Will Receive Pulse Ox Screening

New policy could detect up to 90% of congenital heart defects in newborns

October 19, 2013       Leave a Comment
By: Stacy Sawyer

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Lansing, October 14, 2013 -        Parents of newborns can exhale a sigh of relief because on October 2, 2013, the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) announced that Critical Congenital Heart Disease (CCHD) Pulse Oximetry Screening will be added to the Michigan newborn screening panel. The screening will require every hospital in Michigan to perform a pulse oximetry test on every newborn baby before they are sent home and will take effect on April 1, 2014. This simple, non-invasive test could help identify up to 90% of congenital heart defects in newborns and protect them from going home susceptible to sudden cardiac arrest or other dangerous conditions.

      "This simple screening has the potential to save hundreds of Michigan babies," says Sarah Poole, Government Relations Director for the American Heart Association. "And we applaud the MDCH for the role they have played in helping to ensure that all newborns are tested for CCHD."

      Congenital heart defects are the No. 1 birth defect and a leading cause of infant death in Michigan. In September 2011, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius advised that critical congenital heart defects screening be added to the "Recommended Uniform Screening Panel" for newborns before they are released from a hospital or birthing facility. As a result, the American Heart Association made pulse oximetry a national legislative priority for 2013.

      One out of every 100 babies is born with a congenital heart defect. Of those babies with sick hearts, about 60% are found in utero during a routine ultrasound at around 20 weeks. The other 40% will not be detected until after birth, either because of a physical manifestation of the disease or now, pulse oximetry screening.

About the American Heart Association

Founded in 1924, we're the nation's oldest and largest voluntary health organization dedicated to building healthier lives, free of heart disease and stroke. To help prevent, treat and defeat these diseases - America's number one and number three killers - we fund cutting-edge research, conduct lifesaving public and professional educational programs, and advocate to protect public health. To learn more or join us in helping all Americans, call 1-800-AHA-USA1 or visit

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Stacy Sawyer

Stacy Sawyer is the Director of Communications for the American Heart Association. She can be reached at (989) 225-7513.

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