Thursday, July 13, 2006

EKG for Newborns Might Prevent SIDS

(Reuters) Dr. Peter Schwartz, one of the world's leading authorities on Long QT Syndrome LQTS (a series of genetic defects of ion channels in the heart responsible for its occasional abnormal heart rhythms that can be fatal), today proposed in the European Heart Journal that newborns receive an electrocardiogram (ECG) to screen for this disease. Here's the actual abstract.
LQTS affects the heart's rhythm and occurs in about 1 in every 2,500 births. Children and young adults with the disorder are susceptible to an abnormally fast heart rhythm which, if it is not corrected, can cause sudden death.

It rarely produces symptoms and can be triggered by loud noises, major emotions and overexertion. In some cases deaths in babies with the illness are wrongly attributed to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or cot death, according to the researchers.

"We could prevent about 10-15 percent of cot deaths, plus a number of deaths that will occur later in life," Schwartz said. "It is a genetic disorder. Either you have it or you don't. If you have it, it will be visible at the end of the first month of life."
To me this seems like a no-brainer: cheap, easy to obtain, non-invasive. The only problem is, that most adult docs won't have a clue, since kid's ECG's look very different from adults' ECGs. So there will have to be some training involved, but it could become part of every OB/GYNE and pediatric resident's curriculum.


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