Pulse Oximetry Screening : It’s About Time

It is about time! Timely diagnosis, and timely intervention for children with potentially lethal cardiac defects make an enormous individual difference to their survival and other outcomes.

A new enormous study in the lancet from China (over 120,000 babies screened) has similar findings to the previous studies, showing good sensitivity, low false positives and overall acceptability of pulse oximetry screening of apparently healthy newborns.

The study is accompanied by one of the best editorials that I have read, measured, reasonable, evidence based, and clearly written (Ewer AK. Pulse oximetry screening: do we have enough evidence now? The Lancet). As he notes, the added value of pulse oximetry screening will depend upon the background rate of detection of critical heart disease in your health care system: but all of the studies show some added value. False positives are much less frequent with pulse oximetry screening than with physical exam, so the added burden to your health care system is likely to be quite small, and in developed economies, minimal.

I certainly think it is time that Canada had a national policy, and that we introduced routine universal pulse oximetry screening for our babies.


About Keith Barrington

I am a neonatologist and clinical researcher at Sainte Justine University Health Center in Montréal
This entry was posted in Neonatal Research. Bookmark the permalink.

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