Am J Perinatol 2020; 37(03): 322-325
DOI: 10.1055/s-0039-1678605
Original Article
Thieme Medical Publishers 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA.

Universal Electrocardiographic Screening for Long QT Syndrome in Hospitalized Neonates

1  Division of Neonatal Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
Timothy J. Ulrich
2  Division of Neonatal–Perinatal Medicine, St. Luke's Health System, Boise, Idaho
Man Li
3  Department of Information Technology, Multidisciplinary Epidemiology and Translational Research in Intensive Care, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
William A. Carey
1  Division of Neonatal Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
Marc A. Ellsworth
4  Division of Neonatology, Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix, Phoenix, Arizona
5  Division of Neonatology, Cardon Children's Medical Center, Banner Health, Mesa, Arizona
› Author Affiliations
Funding None.
Further Information

Publication History

17 December 2018

07 January 2019

Publication Date:
04 February 2019 (online)


Objective Long QT syndrome (LQTS) is a known cause of unexpected death, leading some to recommend routine neonatal electrocardiographic (ECG) screening. We used continuous electronic heart rate corrected QT interval (QTc) monitoring to screen for interval prolongation in a cohort of hospitalized neonates to identify those at a risk of having LQTS. We hypothesized that this screening method would yield an acceptable positive predictive value (PPV).

Study Design A cohort of 589 infants hospitalized in a level II neonatal intensive care unit were screened through continuous electronic QTc monitoring linked to an investigator-designed, computerized data sniffer. Screening was conducted from days-of-life 3 through 7 or until hospital discharge. The data sniffer alerted investigators for a 24-hour average QTc of ≥475 ms. Positively screened patients were further evaluated with 12-lead ECG.

Results Positive screens were obtained in 5.6% of patients, all of whom had negative follow-up ECG testing (PPV = 0%). Furthermore, one-quarter of positively screened neonates underwent echocardiography based on ECG findings, none of which identified clinically relevant pathology.

Conclusion Electronic monitoring of QTc in hospitalized neonates during the first week of life was not an efficient way to identify those at a risk of having LQTS. Conversely, screening triggered unnecessary testing.

Ethical Approval

This research was conducted in accordance with the ethical standards of the Mayo Clinic Institutional Review Board and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments.