Baby Heart Screening


Home and Birth Center Births (For Parents and Providers)

Posted by : | July 13, 2011

pulse ox screening home birth birth center

Information for Parents

While hospitals have pediatric pulse oximeter probes, not all homebirth attendants and birth centers do. Just like with metabolic (heel stick) newborn screening and hearing screening, you should still get your baby screened.

You might be tempted to purchase pulse oximetry equipment and screen your baby yourself, however not all pulse oximeters are made equally and these over-the-counter models will give improper results.

Getting your home birth baby screened:

  • Ask your midwife if she has pulse oximetry equipment. If she isn’t familiar with the value of the screening, show her the evidence. If she hasn’t heard of the screening, direct her to this site to review the screening protocol and to this post on our blog that covers how to place a pulse ox on a newborn. 
  • If your midwife doesn’t have the proper equipment (note: a FDA cleared device should be used), talk to your unborn baby’s intended pediatrician. Many offices can do the screening, but be aware some pediatricians also do not have the correct equipment. Schedule a time to visit the office when your baby is about 24 hours old (talk to your doctor about alternative timing if that doesn’t work for you).
  • You might be able to get your baby screened at your local hospital. However, most likely you will need an order from a pediatrician. Definitely call in advance.

Information for Providers

A note about equipment: You might be tempted to purchase pulse oximetry equipment, however not all pulse oximeters are made equally. The inexpensive machines available on popular sites won’t be appropriate for this screening. Hospital-grade pulse oximeters are required. Vendors that make properly cleared equipment include Masimo, Coviden and Nellor. 

For midwives and home birth providers, this is an excellent resource from Masimo explaining technology and tools needed to start a CCHD screening program. 

The Wisconsin SHINE program has a section dedicated to home births and birth center births. 

I encourage you to take advantage of the resources on this site and accompanying blog, where you can find information about the screening algorithm, placing a pulse ox probe, educational resources to give to your patients, and the science behind the screening. 


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