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News & Media

Media Release

Date: 29 January 2024

RUH launches new screening test to identify heart problems in babies

Babies born at the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust are being offered a new screening test which can help to identify newborns with heart defects.

Baby George having the screening test with his parents by his side and a clinician administering the test

Newborn Pulse Oximetry Screening, which measures a baby's blood oxygen levels, is currently being rolled out to babies born at the RUH's Bath Birthing Centre and, thanks to a donation of equipment from the charity Tiny Tickers, will be extended to Frome and Chippenham birth centres and babies born at home later this year.

The screening is not a mandatory requirement for UK hospitals but has been found to help identify babies who have critical congenital heart disease before they become unwell, as well as spotting those with breathing problems such as pneumonia.

The test is carried out using a pulse oximeter, a special machine that is used routinely throughout the world to measure the amount of oxygen in the blood. A small probe is wrapped around the baby's hand and foot and connected to a small, handheld machine that measures the baby's oxygen levels by shining a light through the skin.

Chris Tate, Consultant Paediatrician, said: "This screening is quick and painless and has been found to be really successful in identifying babies born with heart defects.

"By identifying heart problems at such an early stage babies can get the care and treatment they need.

"I would like to thank Tiny Tickers who have generously donated more monitors to us, which means we can now roll out the testing to the local community."

On average, approximately 4,500 babies are born each year at the RUH and in our Frome and Chippenham birth centres.

The Tiny Tickers charity aims to help improve the detection, care and treatment of babies with serious heart conditions. You can find out more about their work at


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