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Newborn Screening Ontario
Health Care Providers

CCHD Screening Implementation

Critical Congenital Heart Disease (CCHD) is being added to the newborn screening panel!

At the request of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, NSO is working to implement screening for Critical Congenital Heart Disease (CCHD) by pulse oximetry for all newborns in Ontario.  The addition of CCHD screening is expected to allow earlier detection and improved outcomes for about 50-100 babies each year.

What is CCHD?

CCHD or Critical Congenital Heart Disease refers to conditions where a baby’s heart or major blood vessels around the heart have not formed properly.   They are called critical because they require surgery or intervention in the first year of life to ensure healthy outcomes for the baby.

Why do we screen?

While a portion of babies with CCHD will be diagnosed by ultrasound during pregnancy or during physical examination after birth, some babies with CCHD can appear to be quite normal and are not identified until they show symptoms of distress and/or deterioration in the early days after birth.   A simple, painless test can be performed that can potentially indicate a problem with oxygen levels.  The early identification of these conditions enables the baby access to appropriate investigation and care, leading to better outcomes

How is CCHD screening done?

CCHD screening is done using pulse oximetry, a simple, non-invasive, point of care test that measures the level of oxygenation in the arterial blood.  The screen is quick to perform (approximately 5 minutes) and the results of the screen are available right away.

What is the role of Newborn Screening Ontario?

NSO will be supporting the implementation of this initiative with the provision of equipment standards and educational resources.  We will also be collecting CCHD screening results for quality assurance and program evaluation.   Our goal is to support quality, consistency and access to CCHD screening for all babies in Ontario.  NSO will be collaborating with hospitals and midwifery groups to launch the provincial CCHD screening program in stages, beginning in winter 2017. 

What is the role of hospital and midwifery groups?

The screen is performed at the front line level so this role is vital!  It involves providing parent education, performing the screen in accordance with best practice guidelines, and providing prompt management for screen positive results.  Hospitals and midwifery groups will also be responsible for providing accurate and complete documentation of screening results to NSO. 

Together, we can work to ensure no baby is left out.

A healthy start leads to a healthier life. 

Check back to this website for information updates.

Contact Information

Contact to get more information, or to be added to the NSO CCHD newsletter update list.