Routine Heart Test Can Save Lives Of Newborn Babies

According to Swedish study, routine screening of newborn babies for a life-threatening heart problem can save lives.

Researchers found checking blood oxygen levels increased detection of a congenital heart defect which affects up to two in a thousand babies.

The British Medical Journal online study says just under a third currently leave hospital undiagnosed, leading to added complications and more deaths. UK experts are investigating if screening should be introduced.

In affected babies, a blood vessel called the ductus arteriosus – which bypasses the baby’s non-functioning lungs when in the uterus and normally closes off soon after birth – remains partly open.

Experts are seeking better ways of detecting such defects as soon as possible after birth.

Babies can display symptoms such as a heart murmur, look “blue”, be breathless or be unable to feed.

But others do not show any signs of illness, and so defects can be missed until the baby’s condition deteriorates because their heart cannot cope.

And the researchers suggest that as the time mothers stay in hospital with their newborn babies is reduced, the number leaving hospital with the duct malformation is likely to increase.

Read more at BBC News


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