The New Jersey Senate has approved legislation sponsored by Senator Dawn Marie Addiego (R-8) that would improve the screening of the cardiac health of children during annual medical exams.
“Too many seemingly healthy children die every year from sudden cardiac conditions that go unnoticed despite routine medical exams,” said Addiego. “We need to improve both those exams and medical training to ensure that all children who need additional care or treatment are identified in time.”
Approximately 2,000 apparently healthy children die suddenly from cardiac conditions each year in the United States. While risk factors leading to those events vary, and some have no identifiable inheritable pattern, others may be discerned through an evaluation of a child’s family history.
Addiego’s legislation, S-471, requires that an annual medial examination of any child under the age of 19 include questions contained in the “Preparticipation Physical Evaluation” form that evaluate a child’s family history related to cardiac conditions.
Those questions, used to screen students seeking to participate in school-sponsored athletics, were developed jointly by a number of leading medical authorities, including the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“Kids who play sports already go through a more rigorous screening process to assess whether they have additional cardiac risk factors based on their family medical history,” added Addiego. “It makes sense to expand that existing screening process to all children.”
S-471 also would require the development of a cardiac screening professional development module to increase the assessment skills of health care practitioners who perform any physical examinations of children under the age of 19.
“The additional training requirement of the legislation will ensure that medical professionals treating children are equipped with the skills needed to identify cardiac conditions and risk factors and that may put a child’s life at risk,” added Addiego.