A simple red cap might not seem significant. But the little red caps going home with every baby born at Coffey County Hospital carry a life-saving message.
Throughout the month of February, each baby receives and hand-crocheted red cap symbolizing heart-health awareness. “Little Hats, Big Hearts”TM is a national program honoring babies, moms, and heart-healthy lives in a very special way. Volunteers throughout the country are knitting and crocheting red hats to be given out to thousands of babies during American Heart Month. The caps empower moms to live heart healthy lives and to help their children do the same.
“We are very grateful to surgical nurse Lindsey Skillman who crocheted caps for our newborns,” said CCH Obstetrics Supervisor Michelle McVey. “Her time and talents allowed us to participate in this growing national program to promote heart-health among our newborn families. We want our families to be together for a lifetime, so heart health is important for everyone—babies and their parents.”
Coffey County Hospital screens all newborns for Critical Congenital Heart Defects (CCHD) beyond mandated measures.
“This additional test is potentially life-saving because some babies who are born with a heart defect may initially appear healthy, but begin to develop problems in the first days or weeks at home,” McVey explains. “It is our priority to identify CCHD in infants as soon as possible.”
A CCHD is a problem in the structure of the heart or with the bloodflow through the heart. Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defects in newborns. Unfortunately, the cause is unknown.
The CCHD screening is performed 24-48 hours after a baby is born, or as late as possible if the baby is going home before he/she is 24 hours old. The screening is done by pulse oximetry—a simple and painless test to determine the amount of oxygen in the blood. Pulse oximetry is performed by placing a small, soft, flexible sensor on the baby’s hand and foot. The screening only takes a few minutes to complete. Low levels of oxygen in the blood may be sign of a serious heart problem.
If the baby’s screening is negative (normal blood oxygen level), his/her test did not raise concern for CCHD. However, pulse oximetry screenings do not catch all congenital heart defects, so it is still possible to have a CCHD even with a negative result. The baby should continue to have regular visits with his/her doctor. If the baby’s screening is positive (low blood oxygen level), his/her test showed low levels of oxygen in the blood, which may be a sign of CCHD.
“A positive result does not always mean a baby has a congenital heart defect, but more testing is needed, “ said McVey. “Our physicians may recommend a repeat screening and more specific tests such as an echocardiogram to precisely determine the issue.”
Photo: These babies—along with all babies born at Coffey County Hospital in February—have hand-crocheted caps promoting heart health. CCH Obstetrics Supervisor Michelle McVey is shown holding a precious newborn.
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