BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Newborn pulse oximetry screening is recommended to promote early referral of neonates with critical congenital heart disease (CCHD) and reduce mortality; however, the impact of late referral on mortality is not well defined. The purpose of this population-based study was to describe the association between timing of referral to a cardiac center and mortality in 2360 liveborn neonates with CCHD.
METHODS: Neonates with CCHD born before pulse oximetry screening (1996–2007) were selected from the Texas Birth Defects Registry and linked to state birth and death records. Age at referral was ascertained from date of first cardiac procedure at a cardiac center. Logistic and Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to estimate factors associated with late referral and mortality; the Kaplan-Meier method was used to estimate 3-month survival.
RESULTS: Median age at referral was 1 day (25th–75th percentile: 0–6 days). Overall, 27.5% (649 of 2360) were referred after age 4 days and 7.5% (178 of 2360) had no record of referral. Neonatal mortality was 18.1% (277 of 1533) for those referred at 0 to 4 days of age, 9.0% (34 of 379) for those referred at 5 to 27 days of age, and 38.8% (69 of 178) for those with no referral. No improvement in age at referral was found across the 2 eras within 1996–2007.
CONCLUSIONS: A significant proportion of neonates with CCHD experienced late or no referral to cardiac specialty centers, accounting for a significant number of the deaths. Future population-based studies are needed to determine the benefit of pulse oximetry screening on mortality and morbidity.
- Accepted March 28, 2014.
- Copyright © 2014 by the American Academy of Pediatrics