What is CCHD screening?
The least invasive standard newborn screening is testing for CCHD via pulse oximetry. CCHD stands for critical congenital heart defects, a broad term encompassing a variety of inherited heart conditions. Pulse oximetry is a simple device which measures blood oxygen levels by shining a light through a baby’s hand or foot.
Pulse oximetry is a quick and non-invasive screening usually occurring between 24 and 48 hours after birth. Screening before 24 hours is generally considered too soon to be reliable, so such early screenings will typically be repeated. Infants who do not pass the first screening will be screened a second time.
Most states require hospitals to perform CCHD screening, while some others also require any medical professionals attending a birth to ensure screening occurs. Some states also lay this responsibility on parents—applying even to home births. Noncompliance can potentially even lead to departmental investigations and sometimes even criminal penalties.
Several states allow parents to refuse screening for any reason while others limit the options to religious exemptions only. A few others do not specifically allow for a parental refusal by law, but examination of the refusal forms for other kinds of screening reveals a place for parents to specifically refuse CCHD screening.
If the parents object to the test, the health department is typically notified of the refusal, sometimes by the exemption form being submitted to the department or screening program. This “reporting” to the health department is not the same as a report to CPS or similar agencies for suspected child abuse or neglect. However, sometimes parents have been threatened with reports to CPS for refusing the test.
Learn more about newborn hearing screening in general at https://newbornscreening.hrsa.gov/newborn-screening-process#pulse-oximetry. Be sure to visit our law and policy page to learn your state’s law. Whatever your position on newborn CCHD screenings, Heritage Defense supports your parental right to make informed medical decisions for your children.
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If you are a member of Heritage Defense and still have questions after reviewing our Law & Policy page about newborn CCHD screening, please contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.
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