HealthDay News — Pulse oximetry (POX) plus cardiac auscultation is a reliable method for neonatal congenital heart disease screening, according to a study published in Pediatrics.

Xiao-jing Hu, PhD, from the Children’s Hospital of Fudan University in Shanghai, and colleagues assessed the accuracy of POX plus cardiac auscultation for the detection of major congenital heart disease (CHD) in 15 Chinese hospitals (July 1, 2012, through December 31, 2014). An abnormal POX or cardiac auscultation was defined as screen positive. Echocardiograph was performed on all screen-positive newborns.

The researchers found that the hospital screening rate ranged from 94.0% to 99.8%, with 167,190 consecutive asymptomatic newborn infants screened.

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In total, 203 screened newborns had major CHD (44 critical and 159 serious). The sensitivity of POX plus cardiac auscultation was 95.5% for critical CHD and 92.1% for major CHD, with false-positive rates of 1.2% and 1.1%, respectively.

“We show that using POX plus cardiac auscultation significantly improved the detection rate of major CHD in the early neonatal stage, with high sensitivity and a reasonable false-positive rate,” the authors write.

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Hu XJ, Ma XJ, Zhao Qm, et al. Pulso oximetry and auscultation for congenital heart disease detection [published online September 22, 2017]. Pediatrics. doi: 10.1542/peds.2017-1154