Pediatrics: Newborn Pulse Oximetry for Infants Born Out-of-Hospital


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES Conventional timing of newborn pulse oximetry screening is not ideal for infants born out-of-hospital. We implemented a newborn pulse oximetry screen to align with typical midwifery care and measure its efficacy at detecting critical congenital heart disease.

METHODS Cohort study of expectant mothers and infants mainly from the Amish and Mennonite (Plain) communities with limited prenatal ultrasound use. Newborns were screened at 1 to 4 hours of life (“early screen”) and 24 to 48 hours of life (“late screen”). Newborns were followed up to 6 weeks after delivery to report outcomes. Early screen, late screen, and combined results were analyzed on the basis of strict algorithm interpretation (“algorithm”) and the midwife’s interpretation in the field (“field”) because these did not correspond in all cases.

RESULTS Pulse oximetry screening in 3019 newborns (85% Plain; 50% male; 43% with a prenatal ultrasound) detected critical congenital heart disease in 3 infants. Sensitivity of combined early and late screen was 66.7% (95% confidence interval [CI] 9.4% to 99.2%) for algorithm interpretation and 100% (95% CI 29.2% to 100%) for field interpretation. Positive predictive value was similar for the field interpretation (8.8%; 95% CI 1.9% to 23.7%) and algorithm interpretation (5.4%; 95% CI 0.7% to 18.2%). False-positive rates were ≤1.2% for both algorithm and field interpretations. Other pathologies (noncritical congenital heart disease, pulmonary issues, or infection) were reported in 12 of the false-positive cases.

CONCLUSIONS Newborn pulse oximetry can be adapted to the out-of-hospital setting without compromising sensitivity or prohibitively increasing false-positive rates.

Pediatrics: Newborn Pulse Oximetry for Infants Born Out-of-Hospital