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Feasibility of pulse oximetry screening for critical congenital heart defects in homebirths
  1. M J Cawsey1,
  2. S Noble1,
  3. F Cross-Sudworth1,
  4. A K Ewer1,2
  1. 1Birmingham Women's Hospital, NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK
  2. 2Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research, College of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Birmingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor A K Ewer, Neonatal Unit, Birmingham Women's Hospital, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TG, UK; a.k.ewer{at}


Background Pulse oximetry has been shown to be a valuable additional screening test for detecting critical congenital heart defects in newborns. The feasibility of homebirth screening by the attending midwife has not been reported previously.

Aim Routine pulse oximetry screening of homebirths at 2 h of age was introduced in a UK tertiary maternity service in January 2014. The process and outcomes were evaluated.

Methods Retrospective review of the clinical record of all babies undergoing pulse oximetry screening performed following homebirths over a 16-month period was undertaken. The acceptability of screening among the home care team (n=11) was also evaluated.

Results Ninety babies underwent routine pulse oximetry screening within 2 h following homebirth; two had a positive result and were admitted to the neonatal unit with significant respiratory illness. Screening was acceptable and reassuring to midwives enabling prompt postnatal decision making and confirming normal transition without significantly increasing workload.

Conclusions Early pulse oximetry screening for homebirths is both feasible and acceptable.

  • Neonatology
  • Cardiology

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