FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 7, 2014

KDHE Office of Communications
communications@kdheks.gov, 785-296-0461


KDHE, Blue Ribbon Panel Raise Awareness of Congenital Heart Defects

Feb. 7- 14 is CHD Awareness Week in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. - Every year, 40,000 babies are born in the United States with a congenital heart defect, and some defects are not diagnosed until months or years after birth. Approximately 7,200 of these are diagnosed with Critical Congenital Heart Defect (CCHD) which substantially increases the risk of infant death if not diagnosed shortly after birth. Robert Moser, M.D., Kansas Secretary of Health & Environment and State Health Officer, says while the majority of Kansas infants are screened for CCHD using pulse oximetry, his staff in KDHE's Bureau of Family Health, jointly with the Kansas Hospital Association, American Heart Association, and March of Dimes and other partners, are ramping up outreach to bring awareness to CCHD screening.

Earlier this week, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed a proclamation recognizing Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week, which begins today, Feb. 7.

"Critical congenital heart defects can be detected in infants using pulse oximetry testing. I've seen first-hand the many ways our medical community is committed to providing exemplary care for infants and families, so I'm confident that our upcoming baseline study on newborn screening will demonstrate a wide-ranging use of pulse oximetry tests in the neonatal environment," said Dr. Moser, a family physician for more than two decades. "Because a pulse oximetry test is not a blood test, we currently recommend that it not be incorporated in the statutorily required screenings conducted through KDHE's Newborn Screening Program, which screens for a core panel of 28 conditions using blood specimens submitted by medical providers across the state."

KDHE data show that birth defects were the leading cause of infant mortality in Kansas in 2011 and were the second leading cause in 2012. Along with its partners on the Kansas Blue Ribbon Panel on Infant Mortality, KDHE continues to study the causes of infant mortality, which is an important indicator of the health of a community.

"The evidence is clear that pulse oximetry testing saves lives. This non-intrusive, low-cost method supports early diagnosis so treatment can begin and health risks are reduced," said Dennis Cooley, M.D., a Topeka pediatrician and chair of the Kansas Blue Ribbon Panel on Infant Mortality.

For more information about congenital heart defects, including screening for critical congenital heart defects, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/heartdefects/index.html

A copy of the Governor's Proclamation is attached.