All babies born at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital in February received red hats knitted and crocheted by volunteers for the American Heart Association (AHA) in celebration of American Heart Month. USC-VHH is one of 30 hospitals participating in the AHA’s Little Hats Big Hearts program, which raises awareness of heart disease, the No. 1 killer of Americans, and congenital heart defects, the most common type of birth defect in the country.

Taylor and Lawsyn Vossmeyer

“Most babies are born with healthy hearts; however, about 1 baby in 100 is born with a congenital heart defect,” said Missy Stehlin, RN, director of USC-VHH’s Women and Family Center. “Pulse oximetry screening, which we employ with every newborn here at USC VHH, is a simple and painless test that measures the level of oxygen that is in a newborn’s blood. Low oxygen levels detected with this screening are often an indicator of a congenital heart defect, even before a baby becomes sick — allowing for early intervention.”