Importance: Critical congenital heart disease (CCHD) was added to the Recommended Uniform Screening Panel for Newborns in the United States in 2011. Many states have recently adopted or are considering requirements for universal CCHD screening through pulse oximetry in birth hospitals. Limited previous research is directly applicable to the question of how many US infants with CCHD might be identified through screening.
Objectives: To estimate the proportion of US infants with late detection of CCHD (>3 days after birth) based on existing clinical practice and to investigate factors associated with late detection.
Design, setting, and participants: Descriptive and multivariable analysis. Data were obtained from a multisite population-based study of birth defects in the United States, the National Birth Defects Prevention Study (NBDPS). We included all live-born infants with estimated dates of delivery from January 1, 1998, through December 31, 2007, and nonsyndromic, clinically verified CCHD conditions potentially detectable through screening via pulse oximetry.
Main outcomes and measures: The main outcome measure was the proportion of infants with late detection of CCHD through echocardiography or at autopsy under the assumption that universal screening at birth hospitals might reduce the number of such late diagnoses. Secondary outcome measures included prevalence ratios for associations between selected demographic and clinical factors and late detection of CCHD.
Results: Of 3746 live-born infants with nonsyndromic CCHD, late detection occurred in 1106 (29.5% [95% CI, 28.1%-31.0%]), including 6 (0.2%) (0.1%-0.4%) first receiving a diagnosis at autopsy more than 3 days after birth. Late detection varied by CCHD type from 9 of 120 infants (7.5% [95% CI, 3.5%-13.8%]) with pulmonary atresia to 497 of 801 (62.0% [58.7%-65.4%]) with coarctation of the aorta. In multivariable analysis, late detection varied significantly by CCHD type and study site, and infants with extracardiac defects were significantly less likely to have late detection of CCHD (adjusted prevalence ratio, 0.58 [95% CI, 0.49-0.69]).
Conclusions and relevance: We estimate that 29.5% of live-born infants with nonsyndromic CCHD in the NBDPS received a diagnosis more than 3 days after birth and therefore might have benefited from routine CCHD screening at birth hospitals. The number of infants in whom CCHD was detected through screening likely varies by several factors, including CCHD type. Additional population-based studies of screening in practice are needed.