Screening newborns for congenital heart disease has drastically decreased infant cardiac deaths, reveals a new study.
Congenital heart disease accounted for 6 percent of U.S. infant deaths from 1999 to 2006. In 2011, critical congenital heart disease was added to the U.S.
Recommended Uniform Screening Panel for newborns but it is not known if the policy requiring screen for the most serious defects is associated with lower infant death rates.
Before-after comparison of early infant deaths (between 24 hours and 6 months of age) from critical congenital heart disease or other congenital cardiac causes in states with mandatory vs nonmandatory screening policies.
As of June 2013, eight states had implemented mandatory screening policies, five states had voluntary screening policies, and nine states had adopted but not yet implemented mandates.
This is an observational study. Researchers are not intervening for purposes of the study so they cannot control natural differences that could explain the study findings.
The authors of this study were Rahi Abouk, Ph.D., William Paterson University, Wayne, New Jersey, and coauthors.
There was a decrease in estimated infant cardiac death rates for states that implemented mandatory screening policies compared to states that did not.
Estimates of death rates were imprecise because of the small number of deaths and the small number of states with fully implemented screening mandates.
The findings support the use of statewide policies requiring newborn critical congenital heart disease screening as one means to reduce U.S. infant mortality.
The editorial, "The Success of State Newborn Screening Policies for Critical Congenital Heart Disease," by Alex R. Kemper, M.D., M.P.H., M.S., of Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, Ohio, and coauthors.