HealthDay News — Critical congenital heart disease (CCHD) newborn screening detects a low percentage of new cases of CCHD, but it can detect other important diseases, according to a study published online April 24 in Pediatrics.

Christina L. Diller, MD, from Emory University in Atlanta, and colleagues retrospectively reviewed screening results from 77,148 term newborns without a known CCHD diagnosis at a tertiary birth hospital. The infants were screened using the American Academy of Pediatrics CCHD newborn screening algorithm. In addition, the authors modeled the results of a modified screening algorithm that used a single repeat pulse oximetry test instead of 2. 

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The researchers found that using the current AAP algorithm, 99.96% of infants passed screening. Of the infants who failed, 18 had an initial saturation of <90% and 16 did not attain a passing pulse oximetry level after 3 tests. Evaluation showed one true-positive (total anomalous pulmonary venous return), 33 false-positives – of which 31.3% had significant non-CCHD disease – and 6 false-negatives, yielding an overall specificity of 99.96%, a sensitivity of 14.3%, and a false-positive rate of 0.043%. The modified algorithm also had a sensitivity of 14.3%, but the false-positive rate increased to 0.054%.

“Although CCHD screening in a tertiary care birth hospital may not detect many new cases of CCHD, it can detect other important diseases in newborns,” the authors write.

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One author disclosed financial ties to Novartis.

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