The Department of Health and Human Services just held a stakeholder call to update on the status of the recommendation to screening newborns for CCHD with pulse oximetry. Given the 5 recommendations related to this screening, the Secretary has found several items she would like to have further clarification on to move forward with the screening (see the original recommendation letter here).
It was clearly stated that the Secretary recognizes the critical importance of CCHD, and has requested further efforts be undertaken immediately to work through the issues surrounding the pulse ox technology itself, follow up diagnostics, service infrastructure, and education. The Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act (of 2007) required the formation of a supplemental Interagency Coordinating Committee on Newborn and Child Screening issues. This committee includes directors of the CDD, HRSA, NIH and AHRQ. The committee has been IMMEDIATELY tasked with reviewing the original SACHDNC five recommendations, any gap areas, and the document produced from the Implementation Workgroup – their goal is to close the gaps. It is the committee’s first order of business…and they have 90 DAYS to provide a plan of action.
Here’s what I know. Without the outreach all of you did, sharing your support and personal stories, this important secondary advisory committee step wouldn’t be happening. This was going down the road of being an averted recommendation. Now it’s not.
So while we might not have the green light quite yet, the motor is running and the car is in gear. Please accept my profound gratitude for all you continue to do to support early diagnosis of heart defects.
I can be honest here, with all of you. These last 10 days have been hard. a hundred hours of time, anxiety, nausea, all of it. My first reaction to the 90 day delay was this: in 90 days, 1,000 more babies will die – and realistically, 200-300 of them will be contributed to by late diagnosis.
But I also realize there is solid intent on the part of the federal stakeholders to get this right. In that spirit, let’s support this effort, continue the work already being done, and look forward to widespread implementation of newborn screening for CCHD. #1in100