Heart-screening for new-borns should be made mandatory

RAS AL KHAIMAH - Heart screening should be made compulsory for newborns in hospitals across the UAE, recommended Indian surgeon Dr Sitaraman Radhakrishnan, HOD of Pediatric Cardiology department at well-known heart institute in India, Fortis Escorts.

by Dhanusha Gokulan

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Published: Sat 24 Mar 2012, 1:14 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 1:44 PM

Recent statistics show that eight out of every 1,000 babies worldwide are born with congenital heart disease. Although the rate of children born with congenital heart defects in the UAE is about the same as the world average, experts say cases in the Emirates are more complex.

Dr Radhakrishnan, the recently appointed consulting surgeon at the RAK Hospital, will be speaking on Interventions in Pediatric Congenital Heart Defects on March 24.

Statistics also show that congenital heart disease causes more deaths in the first year of life than any other birth defects. Also, most babies who leave hospital with undetected serious heart defects die within the first two weeks. The doctor has recommended that congenital heart defects are apparent at birth and if all newborns are screened for such defects early, it will decrease the risk of death. He added that once parents have a child born with a congenital heart defect, there is a 25 per cent chance that the next child will also be affected.

The doctor stressed that clinical examinations at birth and after six weeks with specific cardiac investigations are very important to detect the heart disease and defects.

Meanwhile, the Health Authority – Abu Dhabi (HAAD), in association with the Children’s National Medical Centre, has rolled out a newborn screening programme in the emirate for critical cyanotic congenital heart disease (CCCHD) in February 2011. HAAD estimates that three or four out of 1,000 newborns will obtain a positive pulse oximetry test which will require further investigation, and that about one in 1,000 of these will then require some form of paediatric surgery.

“Diagnosing and treating CCCHD in its early stages is key. That’s why it is so important to have pulse oximetry screening available to all newborns,” said Dr Gerard Martin, co-director of Children’s National Heart Institute at Children’s National Medical Centre.


Dhanusha Gokulan
Dhanusha Gokulan

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