x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

More than 30,000 babies screened for heart diseases in Abu Dhabi

Out of 32,234 babies screened in 21 hospitals across the emirate since January last year, 13 cases of critical congenital heart disease were discovered.

More than 30,000 newborn babies have been screened for critical congenital heart diseases using pulse oximetry, the Health Authority Abu Dhabi revealed yesterday.

Out of 32,234 babies screened in 21 hospitals across the emirate since January last year, 13 cases of critical congenital heart disease were discovered.

The hospitals that have implemented screenings were honoured at a meeting, held yesterday, that was also attended by several families whose young children have benefited from the process.

Pulse oximetry, which is carried out within the first 24 hours of birth, uses a light probe to measure oxygen levels in the heart's red blood cells.

Infant death in the emirate has dropped by 20 per cent, partly down to the introduction of pulse oximetry screening, according to various experts.

Last year, the mortality rate was 6.4 per 1,000 live births - down from 8 the previous year.

Without the screening, eight-month-old Jumana Surror may have developed severe neurological complications, or died.

"The doctors used the device to examine Jumana [when she was 24 hours old] then they took her to the neonatal intensive care unit," said her mother, Suad.

"They sent her to Sheikh Khalifa Medical City and she had an ultrasound and they realised she was sick."

After being transferred to a hospital in London for surgery in March Jumana returned home to Abu Dhabi.

"I thank God they were able to detect this disease. I hope that this device will cover all the hospitals throughout the Emirates," her mother said.

ZAlhassani@thenational.ae