Newborn Heart Defect Screening

30 Nov

Whoa! The title there is a mouthful, huh? But, seriously, folks, Newborn Heart Screening is an issue I’m passionate about for all the obvious reasons.

This isn’t something I talk about a lot on this blog (it’s a focus on my personal blog) but our daughter, Nyx, was born on September 2, 2009 with undetected heart defects. I had a picture perfect pregnancy. Around 18-20 weeks, we were told about our two-vessel cord issue but were assured it was no big deal. (Wrong! It’s a marker for possible congenital abnormalities or birth defects.) We had the extra ultrasound, though, and had Nyx’s heart looked at again

Clearly, the radiologist who performed the ultrasound failed basic anatomy. Nyx’s heart in no way resembled a normal heart and had the tell-tale “boot” shape that so many Tetralogy of Fallot babies have. Still, he cleared us and told us everything was a-okay.

Thankfully, our OB had some suspicions something wasn’t quite right as I went through labor and delivery. She had the NICU team waiting in the room when I delivered. Kiddo’s pulse ox test (the red light/probe they wrap around a finger or toe that measures blood oxygenation) revealed she had some major issues. Within a few hours and further testing, we learned Nyx had Tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary atresia plus an atrial septal defect. Later, we’d discover that her coronary artery was in a weird place, too.


So–anywho. That pulse ox test saved Nyx’s life. Having immediate access to a NICU that could offer breathing support and cardiac drugs like propranolol and a pediatric cardiologist who could review her echocardiogram saved Nyx’s life.

Nyx had two heart procedures during the first 6 months of her life, both done at Texas Children’s by rock star pediatric cardiac surgeon, Dr. Charles Fraser.

Typical “Blue Baby” Look of a TOF baby

BT Shunt September 17, 2009

BT Shunt Side View

Open Heart @ Texas Childrens, March 2, 2010

I encourage all pregnant mothers to educate themselves on heart defects. Yes, modern medicine is wonderful but it’s so ridiculously common for heart defects–SERIOUS heart defects–to be missed on routine ultrasounds. Stories of babies who did not survive are heartbreaking when the odds of lifesaving surgery proving successful are so incredibly high.

Nyx, Summer 2012

Every child deserves a chance at life. The simplest things–a pulse ox and EKG or echo follow-up if blood oxygen saturation is low–can mean a world of difference to a heart baby. Educate yourself. Educate your OB or midwife. Take the pledge for your baby’s sake.

*This post is mirrored at my other blog One Tired Mama.*


2 Responses to “Newborn Heart Defect Screening”

  1. Kitt Crescendo November 30, 2012 at 6:37 am #

    So glad that the ending turned out to be a happy one despite the scares. Love your daughter’s name, by the way. It reminds me of one of my favorite characters in Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark series. 🙂

    • Lolita November 30, 2012 at 6:55 am #

      Thank you! I wake up every morning so unbelievably grateful that Nyx was able to be “fixed” and can now grow up to be a happy, healthy adult. And LOL on the Kresley Cole character. 🙂

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