A movement is building across the nation – a movement to screen every newborn for critical congenital heart defects (CCHD) using pulse oximetry. CCHDs are the number one birth defect in newborns affecting roughly 1 in 100 babies. CCHD is a life-threatening condition that often requires surgery or other medical intervention within the first years of life. Failure to detect CCHD or the late detection of CCHD may lead to serious health problems or death. New research suggests wider use of pulse oximetry screening, a quick, painless, inexpensive test, could help identify more than 90 percent of heart defects. More than 30 states have now established a statewide requirement to ensure every baby is screened. Why wouldn’t we screen every baby?                                        

Many Washington hospitals have begun voluntary screening which is encouraging, but voluntary screening today doesn’t guarantee screening tomorrow. We are working with stakeholders and decision-makers to explore how to make a statewide requirement for CCHD screening a reality here in our state. The most powerful way to help decision-makers understand the importance of universal CCHD screening is to share real stories of real families living with CCHD. If you have a personal connection to CCHD and are willing to share your story, please email me.

Together we can ensure every baby gets a healthy start.