All States Now Have Policies Supporting Screening for Critical Congenital Heart Defects

Doctor listening to a baby's heart

A CDC study found that, as of 2018, all 50 states and Washington, D.C. have newborn screening programs that test for critical congenital heart defects. Newborn screening identifies conditions that can affect a child’s long-term health or survival, such as critical congenital heart defects. Previous CDC research found that nationwide screening for critical congenital heart defects could save the lives of at least 120 babies each year.1 All U.S. newborns now have the opportunity to be screened for critical congenital heart defects, which can prevent death early in life.

Read the full scientific article.

Main Findings

  • Between 2011 and 2018, all states and Washington, D.C. created policies for newborn screening of critical congenital heart defects. All U.S. newborns now have the opportunity to be screened for critical congenital heart defects.
  • Many screening programs get screening information from hospitals or birthing centers. However, not all states track screening results and outcomes and share this screening information with birth defects tracking programs.
  • It is important that screening programs and birth defects tracking programs share screening information to allow for evaluation of, and improvements to, newborn screening. 

About This Study

  • Researchers gathered information from online resources about state laws and policies for newborn screening.
  • All screening programs also participated in a survey about collaboration between newborn screening programs and birth defects tracking programs. 

About Critical Congenital Heart Defects Screening

About 1 in 500 babies is born with a critical congenital heart defect each year.2 Screening can help identify some babies born with a heart defect before they go home from the birth hospital. This allows these babies to be treated early, possibly preventing an early death. Learn more about screening for heart defects.

Our Work

CDC is working with partners to learn about how well critical congenital heart defects screening works and long-term health outcomes of people living with heart defects.

More Information

Congenital heart defects

Birth defects tracking programs

Key Findings Reference

Glidewell J, Grosse SD, Riehle-Colarusso T, Pinto N, Hudson J, Daskalov R, Gaviglio A, Darby E, Singh S, Sontag M. State Actions in Support of Newborn Screening for Critical Congenital Heart Disease — United States, 2011–2018. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2019; 68: 107–111.

Other References

  1. Abouk R, Grosse, SD, Ailes, EC, Oster, ME. Association of US State Implementation of Newborn Screening Policies for Critical Congenital Heart Disease with Early Infant Cardiac Deaths. JAMA. 2017;318(21):1-8.
  2. Reller MD, Strickland MJ, Riehle-Colarusso T, Mahle WT, Correa A. Prevalence of Congenital Heart Defects in Metropolitan Atlanta, 1998-2005. J Pediatr. 2008;153(6):807-13.