Acceptability of newborn pulse oximetry screening

02 August 2020
10 min read
Volume 28 · Issue 8



The aim of this study was to determine the acceptance of the midwives regarding the use of newborn pulse oximetry screening (NPOS) over a four-year period in a UK tertiary maternity unit.


An electronic survey of 10 questions was emailed to all midwives working in the maternity unit. Feedback was requested on their experience of performing NPOS using a feasibility scale (1=easy to 10=difficult). Other qualitative feedback explored the perceived usefulness and recollection of positive screening outcomes. The collated feedback was analysed using Wilcoxon Signed Rank test.


Complete responses were received from 99 of 236 (42%) midwives. The average scale rankings of 3.46 (pre-introduction) and 2.38 (post-introduction) indicates that the responding midwives were positive about NPOS (z=-4.5575; p<0.001) and 99% (n=98) felt it was an important screening tool. Of the midwives, 38 (39%) had at least one positive screening result. Conditions identified included cardiac anomalies, sepsis and diaphragmatic hernia.


Our single-centre survey suggests that the NPOS has been well accepted by the midwifery staff in this maternity unit.

Congenital heart disease (CHD) is the general medical term for heart defects that are present from birth. CHD accounts for up to 10% of neonatal deaths and up to 40% of all infant deaths when left undiagnosed (Thangaratinam et al, 2012). The incidence rate for CHD in the UK is estimated to be 7/1 000, or one in every 145 babies born (Brown et al, 2006; Thangaratinam et al, 2012). The term critical congenital heart disease (CCHD) refers to a subgroup of CHD (25%) which can cause serious and life-threatening problems including cardiac arrest and death. Infants with CCHD (Table 1) require surgery or other procedures within the first 28 days of life to ensure survival (Wren et al, 2008; Thangaratinam et al, 2012).

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