1pc of newborns diagnosed with heart disease
Al Ain, April 11, 2012
One per cent of tested newborns were diagnosed with congenital heart disease (CHD) while 0.3-0.5 per cent of newborns were diagnosed with critical congenital heart disease (CCHD) in a UAE study conducted by Tawam Hospital.
Tawam Hospital, in affiliation with Johns Hopkins Medicine, today (April 11) revealed data from its one-year Newborn Screening for Critical Congenital Heart Diseases program.
Implemented in accordance with the Health Authority-Abu Dhabi (HAAD) regulations, the program screened 98 per cent of eligible infants (4,473), born at Tawam Hospital in 2011, using the non-invasive and cost-effective Pulse Oximetry method.
The Pulse Oximetry method is applied by placing a sensor across the infants’ feet 24 hours after their birth. It monitors the level of oxygen in a patient's blood and alerts the medical staff if oxygen levels drop below safe levels.
Dr Mohamed Hamdan, consultant and head of Paediatric Cardiology at Tawam Hospital, stressed that CHD is the most common congenital anomaly, occurring in about one per cent of newborns.
“Nearly half of the babies with CHD have ‘critical’ lesions which require medical or surgical intervention in the first week after they are born. If these lesions are not detected early, there is a significant risk of death or bad neuro-developmental outcome,” he said.
“We have applied the Pulse Oximetry method because other current methods of detection, including fetal echocardiography (heart ultrasound for babies in the womb), can miss up to 50 per cent of cases, resulting in diagnosis being missed before newborns are discharged from hospital.”
“Our findings are comparable to internationally published data. In Abu Dhabi, where live births are around 25,000 per year, the cases of CCHD are estimated to be 50-75 per year, of which death can result in 100 per cent of cases if these heart defects are not detected and referred for treatment in the neonatal period,” Dr Hamdan noted.
“We encourage other facilities to adopt this program and our results provide justifications for a wider application of such program across the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the UAE.”
In August 2011, the Health Authority-Abu Dhabi issued standards for Newborn Screening Requirements, including Pulse Oximetry, for all newborns in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
Newborns admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit were excluded from the program, while those with arterial oxygen saturations (less than or equal to 95 per cent) were referred for prompt echocardiography, an ultrasound that detects any abnormality in the heart, before being released from the hospital.
False negative results were tested by contacting the parents and asking specific questions about whether their babies were hospitalized within one month of discharge, as well as examining medical records across Seha facilities.
Tawam Hospital is part of the Seha Health System and is owned and operated by Seha, which is responsible for the curative activities of all the public hospitals and clinics in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. – TradeArabia News Service
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