Duke Study Suggests Infant Screening for Heart Disease

Aug 22, 2011

Duke University researchers are recommending a simple test to determine whether newborns have a serious health concern. About one percent of all babies are born with congenital heart disease. But spotting the problem early can be difficult. Doctor Alex Kemper is an associate professor of pediatrics at Duke. He says there is an easy way to help pinpoint the problem.

Alex Kemper: "Pulse oximetry measures the percentage of blood that's oxygenated. It's a simple test that's available in essentially all hospitals. Many babies who have these critical congenital heart defects, if you measure the oxygen that's in their blood, will have low levels."

Kemper says if a baby shows low oxygenation, additional testing may be necessary including echocardiogram or ultrasound of the heart.