A baby is born with a serious heart condition every two hours in the UK. Despite congenital heart disease being one of the biggest killers of infants in the UK, only around half of heart defects are picked up during routine prenatal scanning. It is vital that we provide a safety net for the 1,000 babies each year that leave hospital with their heart defect undetected. Pulse Oximetry testing helps to detect heart defects by measuring oxygen levels (oxygen saturation) in the blood.
Babies with undetected heart defects will often fall into the early stages of heart failure - significantly impacting their long-term quality of life. Some will die before anyone realises they have a poorly heart, or before getting the surgery that would save them. Early detection means that parents receive immediate support and reduces the wider impact on critical services and their families lives.
Pulse Oximetry testing helps to detect heart defects by measuring oxygen levels in the blood. It uses a light sensor to assess the level of oxygen in the baby's blood and takes a few minutes at no discomfort to the baby. Research has shown that this simple, additional newborn test could help identify cases of heart problems that would otherwise go undetected. Currently this testing is not a mandatory newborn test within hospitals, and many maternity units do not have the means to provide it.
Each year around 3,600 babies have open heart surgery before their first birthday. By supporting this project, you will be helping to save these babies lives - increasing the chances of their life-threatening heart condition being detected before they leave hospital and before they start falling into heart failure. When detected, we know that many heart conditions can be treated - surgery survival rates are very high and 80% of babies born with a congenital heart defect survive past 16 years.