Newborn Screening Information for Providers: Pulse Oximetry Screening in the NICU - Minnesota Dept. of Health

Newborn Screening Information for Providers:
Pulse Oximetry Screening in the NICU

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Reporting Results


Minnesota state law (Statute 144.1251) requires that premature infants (defined as infants less than 36 weeks of gestation) and infants admitted to a higher level nursery (special care or intensive care) receive newborn pulse oximetry screening when medically appropriate, but prior to discharge.

Currently, no nationally-standardized protocols for screening premature infants and infants in the NICU exist. The screening algorithm we recommend in Minnesota applies to healthy appearing infants and does not apply to newborns who were prenatally diagnosed with a critical congenital heart disease (CCHD) or to premature or sick newborns in the NICU.

Although providing pulse oximetry screening to infants in the NICU is important, national workgroups have stated that developing a simple algorithm for all NICU settings is challenging due to the heterogeneity of the underlying conditions, such as prematurity and sepsis. In general, the following guidance exists for pulse oximetry screening in the NICU population:

  • Screening should be performed at 24 to 48 hours of age or as soon as medically appropriate for infants who have not already had an echocardiogram.
  • If the infant has not had an echocardiogram nor required supplemental oxygen, proceed with the screening algorithm for newborns in the well-baby nursery
  • Delay screening for infants requiring supplemental oxygen until the infant is stable in room air
  • For infants who are to be discharged home on supplemental oxygen, perform a screen or echocardiogram prior to discharge

Reporting Results

Minnesota state law (Statute 144.1251) requires that all pulse oximetry screening results be reported to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). All results should be reported electronically using MNScreen.