During the 2013 legislative session, Act 407 was enrolled, implementing
the Newborn Critical Congenital Heart Disease Screening Program. Effective
August 1, 2013, the new law creates a program requiring all birthing facilities,
defined as an inpatient or ambulatory healthcare facility licensed by
the Department of Health and Hospitals that provides birthing and newborn
care services, to screen all Louisiana newborns for congenital heart defects.
Such defects are described as structural abnormalities of the heart that
are present at birth and range in severity from simple problems, such
as holes between chambers of the heart, to severe malfunctions, such as
the complete absence of one or more chambers or valves. According to the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, congenital heart defects occur
in approximately one in one hundred ten births in the United States.
Current methods of screening for congenital heart defects generally include
prenatal ultrasound screenings and repeated clinical examinations; however,
these methods often miss defects that can be detected by pulse oximetry
screening. This law defines pulse oximetry screening as a noninvasive
test that estimates the percentage of hemoglobin in blood that is saturated
with oxygen to detect congenital heart defects. When screening such as
pulse oximetry is performed on a newborn in a birthing facility, it is
believed to be effective in detecting life-threatening defects.
These findings are further supported by the Secretary of Health and Human
Services (HHS), who recommended on September 21, 2011, that screening
for critical congenital heart disease be added to the recommended uniform
screening panel. In addition to the HHS, the American Academy of Pediatrics
has been a strong advocate of early detection of congenital heart defects
through pulse oximetry.
Furthermore, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
the costs of pulse oximetry screening has been estimated to cost less
than $15.00 per infant, with an average time of approximately 10 minutes
As a result of these findings, the Newborn Critical Congenital Heart Disease
Screening Program requires that every birthing facility in Louisiana perform
pulse oximetry screening on each newborn before discharge, unless prohibited
by the parent or guardian of the newborn.