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Screening Basics



Future Hoosier parents and gaurdians have asked many questions while preparing for the arrival of thier newborn. Now, these questions have been answered by your friends  at the GNBS porgram.

Review our NBS FAQ sheet



Heel Stick/Bloodspot Screening

A Parent's Guide to Newborn Screening Video explains the basics about newborn screening, its purpose and what parents need to do if rescreening is necessary.This video was created by the March of Dimes.


Pulse Oximetry Screening

What is pulse oximetry screening?

Pulse oximetry  (also called “pulse ox”) is a non-invasive, gentle test that measures how much oxygen a baby has in his or her blood.  Pulse oximetry is used as part of newborn screening to determine how healthy a baby’s heart & lungs are. 

Babies who have low oxygen levels, less than 95%, may need to be evaluated for critical congenital heart disease, sepsis, respiratory problems, or other conditions detrimental to the baby's health.

What is Critical Congenital Heart Disease (CCHD)?

Critical congenital heart disease (also called CCHD) is a broad term that refers to several different heart defects. A heart defect occurs when a baby's heart does not develop correctly. Seven of these CCHDs can be detected by pulse oximetry screening. A baby born with one of these heart defects often has a low amount of oxygen in their blood. All of these heart defects require treatment, often involving surgery, to correct them soon after birth. If a baby has CCHD and does not receive treatment shortly after birth, the baby has a higher chance of developing serious health outcomes, including death. 

Indiana was the 2nd state in the US to add pulse oximetry screening to the mandatory state newborn screen. Since January 1, 2012, every baby born in Indiana has been required to have pulse oximetry performed as part of their newborn screening unless refused by parents due to their religious beliefs.

It is important for parents to know that pulse oximetry cannot identify every child with CCHD. Most babies who pass the pulse oximetry screen will not have CCHD. However, parents should know the signs of CCHD: blue color to the skin, fingernails or lips, fast breathing and/or poor feeding or weight gain. If you notice any of these signs, please contact your baby's doctor.

Why is pulse oximetry used to screen for CCHD?

Pulse oximetry is a fast, simple, and non-invasive, or gentle, test that can be done shortly after a baby is born. Without pulse oximetry, some babies who have CCHD, but are not prenatally diagnosed, may leave the hospital without being diagnosed and treated. While every baby should receive a complete examination by a doctor before leaving the hospital, some babies may not yet display the symptoms of CCHD (such as an abnormal heart rate or an extra sound in the baby's heartbeat called a murmur). That is why pulse oximetry is so important for early intervention, or treatment, of CCHDs.


Hearing Screening