Critical congenital heart defects present a major challenge to newborn health
Critical congenital heart defects (CCHDs) present a major challenge to newborn health. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, congenital heart defects are responsible for 24 percent of infant deaths due to birth defects. Kentucky policymakers have unanimously embraced an opportunity to address this serious public health threat. On April 17, 2013, Gov. Steve Beshear signed Senate Bill 125 at a special bill-signing ceremony. The event was held in the lobby of Norton Children’s Hospital — quite appropriate because the bill is, in fact, “Just for Kids.” The focus of Senate Bill 125 is two-fold: It will mandate screenings for CCHDs and it will require insurance companies to cover the costs. In the United States, several thousand babies are born each year with seven specific congenital heart defects, called CCHDs. These heart defects can be difficult to diagnose. In fact, it is estimated that each year hundreds of babies are sent home from the hospital without receiving the necessary treatment. However, CCHDs can often be detected through noninvasive testing. Some babies affected with CCHD can look and act healthy at first, but within hours or days after birth they can have serious complications. If a CCHD is detected early, these infants can often be treated successfully and lead longer, healthier lives. For more information on CCHDs, call (502) 629-6000 or visit NortonChildrens.com/CongenitalHeartCenter.