A simple test involving testing of oxygen in the blood of the new born babies is the most efficient way of detecting congenital heart defects, a new study published in The Lancet journal reveals.
Researchers, led by Dr Andrew Ewer of the University of Birmingham, conducted the study involving more than 20,000 new born babies and arrived at the conclusion that testing a baby's blood for oxygen is the best way of identifying whether it had a congenital heart defect.
The study, which was funded by National Institute for Health Research, managed to detect 75 percent of all critical illnesses, which could have either proven fatal or resulted in surgery within first four weeks of birth, and 49 percent of all congenital heart defects.
"Pulse oximetry is a safe, non-invasive, feasible and reasonably accurate test which has sensitivity which is better than that of antenatal screening and clinical examination. It adds value to existing screening and is likely to be useful for identification of cases of critical congenital heart defects that would otherwise go undetected", the researchers wrote.