Updated Strategies for Pulse Oximetry Screening for Critical Congenital Heart Disease

Pediatrics. 2020 Jul;146(1):e20191650. doi: 10.1542/peds.2019-1650. Epub 2020 Jun 4.


Seven years after its addition to the US Recommended Uniform Screening Panel, newborn screening for critical congenital heart disease (CCHD) using pulse oximetry became mandatory in the United States. Although CCHD newborn screening reduces morbidity and mortality, there remain important opportunities to improve. An expert panel convened for a 1-day meeting in September 2018, including subject matter experts and representatives from stakeholder organizations. Presentations on CCHD outcomes, variations in approach to screening, and data and quality improvement helped identify improvement opportunities. The expert panel concluded that sufficient evidence exists to recommend modifying the current American Academy of Pediatrics algorithm by (1) requiring an oxygen saturation of at least 95% in both (formerly either) the upper and lower extremities to pass and (2) requiring only 1 repeat screen instead of 2 for cases that neither pass nor fail initially. The panel underscored the importance of improving public health reporting by further specifying the targets of screening and criteria for reporting outcomes (false-negative and false-positive cases). The panel also highlighted the need to ensure sufficient public health funding for CCHD newborn screening and opportunities for education and global implementation. Newborn screening for CCHD using pulse oximetry has led to significant improvements in child health outcomes. However, further important work is required to understand and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of screening.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Critical Illness*
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Neonatal Screening / methods*
  • Oximetry / standards*
  • Quality Improvement*