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Maryland Governor Signs Bill that Will Help Newborn Screening for Congenital Heart Disease

Governor Martin O'Malley joins leading Maryland legislators in signing SB 786 and HB 714 into law. Representatives from Children's National Medical Center, Holy Cross Hospital, and parents Olivia and Kevin Easley who advocated for the legislation attended the signing ceremony.

Today Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley 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 Children’s National Medical Center that examined newborn congenital heart disease screening.

Gerard Martin, MD, senior vice president of the Center for Heart, Lung and Kidney Disease at Children’s National, spearheaded the project, which was funded by the Elsie and Marvin Dekelboum Family Foundation. “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."

Children’s National Medical Center worked with the birthing center at Holy Cross Hospital to conduct the research. “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.

Delegate Tom Hucker (District 20-Montgomery County), who introduced HB 714, said of the bill, “With a simple test, babies born in Maryland will now be screened for potentially deadly heart problems. I’m proud that Maryland is taking a lead on this issue with the enactment of HB 714."

Senator Karen Montgomery (District 14-Montgomery County), who introduced SB 786, said, “It is a wonderful thing if we can help parents and physicians save the futures of infants born with heart problems."

“We are grateful to the Maryland state legislators who supported our efforts and saw the benefit of universal newborn screening for critical congenital heart disease. Today is a victory for parents and babies in Maryland, and we look forward to similar legislation throughout the nation in the future,” said Joseph Wright, MD, senior vice president of the Child Health Advocacy Institute at Children’s National, another center that was instrumental in the passage of this legislation.

For more information about the congenital heart disease screening program, please visit

Contact Susan Muma at 202-476-4500.

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