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Virginia Launches Critical Congenital Heart Disease Screening Initiative for Newborns

Fairfax, VA – William A. Hazel, Jr., MD, Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources, joined Kurt D. Newman, MD, President and CEO, Children’s National Medical Center, in announcing the launch of a critical congenital heart disease newborn screening (critical CHD) initiative in Virginia.

“We commend Governor McDonnell, Secretary Hazel, and Delegate Patrick Hope for their commitment to advancing best practices in newborn care,” said Dr. Newman. “This initiative will put the Commonwealth of Virginia in the vanguard of states offering this important newborn screening, which has such an impact on the lives of children and families.”

Approximately four of every 1,000 babies born are affected by critical CHD, and early detection may improve health outcomes. Pulse oximetry is a simple, non-invasive, and painless test that determines the levels of oxygen in the blood. When performed after the first 24 hours of life, pulse oximetry can be effective in identifying infants who may suffer from critical CHD. This initiative will establish a pathway for statewide implementation of newborn screening.

“Children’s National has advocated for critical CHD screening of all newborns. Last year, the US Department of Health and Human Services endorsed adding critical CHD screening to the recommended uniform screening panel and encouraged the implementation of screening in the states,” said Gerard Martin, MD, Senior Vice President, Center for Heart, Lung and Kidney Disease, and Co-Director of the Children’s National Heart Institute. “We are pleased that Dr. Hazel and the Virginia Department of Health are leading this effort to make high quality newborn care available to families across Virginia.”

Dr. Martin, an internationally recognized expert and advocate in the area of screening for CCHD, developed the Congenital Heart Disease Screening Program to help to detect serious CHD while newborns are in the nursery. He and Elizabeth Bradshaw, MSN, RN, CPN, have been working with hospitals, health systems, and health departments around the country to implement this screening process. Children’s National, in partnership with Baby’s First Test, recently released two videos to help parents and clinicians understand this newborn screening.
Media contact: Paula Darte or Susan Muma:  202-476-4500.

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