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Holy Cross Hospital Program Results in New Law to Help Screening for Congenital Heart Disease in Newborns
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More babies born in Maryland will now be screened for congenital heart disease, thanks to a program enacted by Holy Cross Hospital and the Children's National Medical Center.

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley recently signed into law a bill that will help implement congenital heart disease screening for all newborns in the state.

The bill, House Bill (HB) 714/Senate Bill (SB) 786, was passed by the Maryland General Assembly and is the result of an ongoing advocacy and research effort at Holy Cross Hospital and Children’s National Medical Center that examined newborn congenital heart disease screening.

O’Malley signed HB 714 into law on May 19, 2011. Holy Cross Hospital recently began offering the pulse oximetry – or “pulse ox” – test. The procedure, which is not painful and only last minutes, involves shining a special light through the baby’s skin to measure the amount of oxygen that is being carried in the baby’s blood.

“Detecting critical heart defects in newborn infants can be challenging for care providers. I find this program to be valuable as it provides an increased degree of confidence that newborns with critical congenital heart disease are detected within the first two days of life, improving outcomes for these patients and their families,” said Sandra Cuzzi, MD, pediatric education director, Holy Cross Hospital.

Gerard Martin, MD, senior vice president of the Center for Heart, Lung and Kidney Disease at Children’s National Medical Center, spearheaded the project.

“Our research used pulse oximetry to test newborns after the first 24 hours of life before discharge from the nursery to determine whether there is a chance of critical congenital heart disease (CCHD). We know that approximately 8 of every 1,000 babies born are affected by CCHD and early detection of serious forms of the disease may improve health outcomes for those babies,” Martin said.

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