“Critical congenital heart disease (CCHD) occurs in approximately 2 out of every 1000 live births and accounts for 6-10% of all infant deaths. CCHD is a potentially preventable cause of death and screening should be a medical priority.”Dr. Colin John, Medical Director, West Virginia Birth Score Program, West Virginia University

About 1 in every 4 babies born with a heart defect has a critical congenital heart defect (critical CHD, also known as critical congenital heart disease). Babies with a critical CHD need surgery or other procedures in the first year of life. In the United States, about 7,200 babies born every year have critical CHDs. Typically, these types of heart defects lead to low levels of oxygen in a newborn and may be identified using pulse oximetry screening at least 24 hours after birth. Babies with a critical CHD need surgery or other procedures in the first year of life. Other heart defects can be just as severe as critical CHDs and may also require treatment soon after birth. (source: CDC.gov)

West Virginia-Specific Information

West Virginia has been on the forefront of CCHD detection due to House Bill 4327 establishing the expectation that all infants born in a licensed health care facility be screened for CCHD by using pulse oximetry. Standardized screening is essential in case finding those infants with CCHD and assuring that we are all providing safe, evidence based and well-defined care for newborns.

National Information

  • Baby’s First Test is a site that has information regarding information for providers and an educational video for parents in 6 different languages
  • The National Children’s Hospital in Washington D.C. was among the first to implement CCHD screening with pulse oximetry. Video link
  • Critical Congenital Heart Defects Screening Methods – CDC.gov
Helpful Forms

  • CCHD Toolkit Thumbnail
  • CCHD Screening Form
  • Birth Score Eform
  • Blueprint to improve perinatal health


For questions regarding CCHD and Birth Score reporting contact:

Candice Hamilton, MPH
Assistant Director, WV Birth Score Program/Project WATCH
Department of Pediatrics, West Virginia University