Study: Mandatory heart screening for newborns reduces mortality rates

Infants born in states with mandatory testing policies for critical congenital heart disease are less likely to die from the condition or other issues, according to a study published in JAMA.

Health Resources and Services Administration added screening for critical congenital heart disease to the recommended screening panel for newborns in 2011. However, as of June 2013, just eight states had enacted mandatory screening policies for the condition. To assess the impact of mandatory screening policies on infant mortality, researchers analyzed data on infant births and deaths for 2007 through 2013 compiled by the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics.

Over the study period, researchers identified 2,734 infant deaths due to critical congenital heart disease. In states with mandatory screening policies, newborn deaths from the condition decreased more than 33 percent. Additionally, deaths among newborns from other causes, including unspecified cardiac issues, decreased 21 percent. Researchs did not identify any statistically significant declines in states without mandatory screening policies.

"More families are able to celebrate special milestones in a child's life thanks to the early identification and treatment of heart defects," said Director Brenda Fitzgerald, MD, the director of the CDC. "Screening newborns for critical congenital heart disease in every state, tribe and territory will save lives and help babies thrive."

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