Medical Matters: Newborns screened for heart defects - - Jackson, MS

Medical Matters: Newborns screened for heart defects

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Mississippi has long been a national leader in newborn screening tests.

And now, we've discovered our neonatologists have been screening for congenital heart defects for up to a year.

Leslie Kendrick watches her newborn son, Nolan, get screened for congenital heart defects.

"Since heart disease does run in our family, that was always in the back of my mind," she says.

"Eight or nine babies out of a thousand are going to have some kind of structural defect with the heart. Of those, about 25% are going to be critical heart diseases," says Neonatologist Dr. Danny McCaughan 

He says his group added congenital heart evaluation to their newborn screenings about a year ago.

"We just take a sat monitor and place it on two different places on the body. One is the right hand or arm and one is lower extremity. It takes maybe five minutes to do."

Technically known as Pulse Oximetry, specialists are basically looking at oxygen saturation to the heart.

"A baby that's satting at 95 and above is what we are looking for. So a baby with a critical heart lesion will be satting around 85. That's really what we are looking for...things we can fix early to lead to that normal life later."

The vast majority of parents, including Kendrick, leave the Suites at River Oaks knowing their newborn is just fine.

"It makes me feel reassured that they test for that before he leaves," she tells us.

Dr. McCaughan says of the babies with a congenital heart defect, about 25 percent will have a defect that is considered critical.

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