Infant heart screening test a good idea
BY World's Editorials Writers
Monday, March 04, 2013
3/04/13 at 2:47 AM
A simple test that measures oxygen levels in the blood of a newborn could mean the difference between survival and death. Two bills that would require this kind of testing before a newborn leaves a birthing facility are pending in the Legislature.
This is one of those rare examples of legislation that everyone should be able to support.
House Bill 1347 and Senate Bill 851 would require that pulse oximetry, as it is known, be performed on every newborn before going home. The noninvasive test can detect if the oxygen level in the baby's blood is low, which could mean the infant has a breathing problem or heart problem that needs to be addressed.
A House floor vote is expected this week.
The American Heart Association, which is urging support for the screening, has heard from many families who have taken home an infant thinking the child is healthy, only to later notice cold hands and feet, bluish color, mottled skin, difficulty breathing or eating, and so on. The screening test could help spot these problems early on and even prevent an infant from going into heart failure.
At least two dozen states are considering similar legislation.
Some hospitals already conduct such testing. The pending legislation would have the state Health Department write regulations for implementing such screening in all birthing centers.
It's estimated that congenital heart disease affects from seven to nine of every 1,000 live births in the U.S. and Europe. The costs associated with these conditions are staggering - not to mention the heartache.
The costs associated with implementing the testing are minimal - as little as $5 per test. Lawmakers could prevent a lot of heartache as well as a lot of burden on the public by adopting this simple step.
Original Print Headline: Heart health