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The Florida Department of Health Highlights Newborn Screening During Congenital Heart Defects Awareness Week

February 09, 2021

With American Heart Month already underway and Congenital Heart Defects Awareness Week just starting, Florida Department of Health (DOH) is highlighting the preventative measures and screenings done by health care partners throughout the state to diagnose and treat congenital heart defects (CHD) in all newborns.

CHDs are conditions which are present at birth and affect the structure of the heart or the way it works. These conditions are the most common type of birth defects, affecting approximately 1% of babies born in the United States every year. Of those with a CHD, nearly 1 in 4 have a critical CHD (CCHD) which means the baby will need medical intervention, either surgery or other procedure, during their first year of life.

Some CCHDs can be diagnosed before birth via ultrasound, while others are often diagnosed before leaving the hospital or birthing center. Knowing that a newborn has a heart defect can help families plan and allow the newborn to have a longer, healthier life.

CCHD screening is performed using pulse oximetry screening at the newborn’s bedside before discharge from care at the hospital or birth facility at approximately 24 hours of age. Informally called pulse ox, this simple and painless test measures the level of oxygen in the blood.

DOH added CCHD to the Florida Newborn Screening Panel after the recommendation to do so was made by the Genetics and Newborn Screening Advisory Council (GNSAC).  DOH began collecting CCHD screening results as part of the newborn screening specimen submission in 2014. Since then, over 1.4 million babies born in Florida have been screened.

To learn more about CHDs in general, view this Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fact sheet in English and Spanish:

For information specific to CCHD, please visit the American Academy of Pediatrics website:



The department, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.

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