Support for newborn pulse oximetry

A study found that the sensitivity of the test at 76.5% was higher than present strategies based on antenatal screening and clinical examination, with it having a specificity of 99.9%. 

The findings were based on 13 studies that included nearly 230,000 newborn babies.

Pulse oximetry was also found to have an extremely low false positive rate of 0.14%, which dropped further when the tests were conducted 24 hours after birth.

Dr Christoph Camphausen, head of the cardiology department at Sydney Children’s Hospital, said that the method was already in use in major Australian population centres.

“The research convincingly reminds health authorities to provide the necessary funds and infrastructure for this important and simple test in newborn babies,” he said.

Congenital heart disease was the most common birth defect, affecting 8 out of 1000 newborns in Australia.