Mike Penning, MP for Hemel Hempstead, hosted a Parliamentary Reception for the Children’s Heart Federation with constituent and CHF campaigner Alex Smith. Alex is a mother whose daughter’s heart condition went undiagnosed for over two years and she is now promoting a new campaign which seeks to increase early diagnosis of children’s heart conditions.
Congenital Heart Disease is the most common birth defect, affecting over 5000 children in the UK each year. Despite the seriousness of the condition only around a third are detected before birth and delays in detection cause uncertainly, distress, physical harm and can even lead to risks to life for these young children.
The Think HEART campaign launched by the national charity the Children’s Heart Federation, aims to inform parents of the warning signs of a possible heart condition and empower them, giving them the confidence to raise their concerns about their child’s health with their doctor or a health professional.
The Think HEART acronym has five easy to remember steps to identify a possible underlying heart problem:
H – Heart Rate (Is their heart rate too fast or too slow. Normal rate is between 100 to 160 beats per minute)
E – Energy (Are they sleepy, quiet and too tired to feed)
A – Appearance (Is your baby a pale, waxy, dusky, blue or grey colour)
R – Respiration (Are they breathing too fast or too slow. Normal rate is between 40 to 60 breaths per minute)
T – Temperature (Are they cold to touch – particularly their hands and feet)
Mike Penning MP commented, “I am delighted to support the Think HEART campaign as it is a fantastic cause. I’m helping to spread the message in my constituency to as many parents as possible so that we can increase early detection and make sure that children with heart problems get the correct diagnosis much sooner. This campaign can help save lives and reduce stress and suffering for children and their whole family, which is why I’m fully behind the campaign”.
Alex Smith, mum of Georgina a child with CHD who was diagnosed after over 2 years said, “We really understand the importance of early diagnosis and how our lives would have been so different in the early days of Georgina’s life if we had known what was really wrong with her.
“It was so stressful having a sick child, knowing there was something wrong with her but not knowing for almost two years that it was her heart. Even though as a mother I had bought up my concerns with a number of medical professionals, they didn’t spot the problem as they weren’t fully aware of the signs either. This is why this campaign is really so important and why I’m glad it has the support of Mike”.
Samantha Johnson, Family Support Manager at CHF commented about the campaign, “The introduction of Pulse Oximetry testing, a simple, quick and cost effective screening method for newborns would help boost detection to over three quarters. Alongside the Think HEART campaign we can help to dramatically increase rates of detection and improve countless lives of both children and their families right across the UK. It’s great to receive the support of Mike Penning MP for our Think HEART campaign”.
You can get involved with the campaign by visiting www.chfed.org.uk/thinkheart
Photo: Mike Penning MP with Samantha Johnson, Family Support Manger at the Children’s Heart Federation. Photo credit: Silver Images