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Birth Defects Res A Clin Mol Teratol. 2012 Dec;94(12):965-9. doi: 10.1002/bdra.23103. Epub 2012 Nov 27.

Newborn screening for critical congenital heart disease: essential public health roles for birth defects monitoring programs.


Newborn screening for critical congenital heart defects, added in September 2011 to the Recommended Uniform Screening Panel in the United States, is a new public health priority and has particular relevance for state birth defects surveillance programs. In this commentary, we review the background to potential involvement by birth defects programs with screening, and detail key questions that these programs can evaluate: (1) health outcomes after newborn screening among affected children; (2) missed primary targets of screening (i.e., affected children who were not screened or had false-negative screens); (3) burden and screening accuracy for secondary targets; (4) the role of altitude, sociodemographic characteristics, and other special circumstances; (5) the contribution of prenatal and clinical diagnoses before newborn screening; and (6) costs and service utilization. To address these issues, monitoring programs will need to pay particular attention to: (1) data sources and quality; (2) timeliness; (3) long-term follow-up for comprehensive outcomes; (4) reporting standards; and (5) state and national program coordination. Although some aspects of involvement with these screening programs will require new partnerships and paradigm shifts in birth defects program operations, the visibility of these screening programs among stakeholders will also provide birth defects programs with new opportunities to demonstrate their usefulness.

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