The status of critical congenital heart defect infant deaths after pulse-oximetry screening mandates

  • Courtney Nichole Haun Samford University
  • Luke Bice Samford University
Keywords: policy research, public policy, cardiology, screening, quality improvement


In 2013, 29.5% of infants born with non-syndromic critical congenital heart defects were undiagnosed through at least 3 days of life, meaning that these infants with severely low blood-oxygen levels, known as birth asphyxia, were left without needed treatment until they were diagnosed. Previous research has shown that newborn deaths caused by CCHDs dropped by 33% in 8 states after they implemented mandatory pulse-oximetry screenings in the first 24 - 48 hours of life. However, estimates of the potential effects of the expansion of mandatory pulse-oximetry screening throughout all 50 states are unknown, as are the potential effects of mandating other CCHD-detecting measures, such as fetal echocardiograms. This study utilizes data from the Center for Disease Control on infant deaths due to CCHDs to estimate the true effect of the expansion of this mandatory measure in the US. Building from a previous study conducted between 2007 and 2013 (1), this study expands to include data from 2007 - 2019. During this period, results indicated a decline in the early infant death rate due to CCHDs associated with nationwide mandatory screening policy implementations. Concurring with the aforementioned study, mandatory screening was associated with a reduction in CCHD infant deaths.