A simple screening tool can save a baby's life. Pulse oximetry screening has detected heart defects in infants, sometimes meaning the different between life and death.
Even though pulse ox is found in every hospital and regularly used in the newborn nursery, currently not every baby is screened. Research has shown that when a baby is screened after 24 hours of life, some of the most serious heart defects are found and a low incidence of false positives occurs. While pulse ox doesn't detect every defect, it's a start.
Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defect, and one of the leading causes of death in the first year of life, killing more babies than SIDS, accidents and any other birth defect. Pulse oximetry is cheap, painless, non-invasive and doesn't interrupt important initial mother-baby bonding time because the screening is most effect after 24 hours of life.
Reach out to lawmakers asking for every state to create pulse oximetry legislation. Currently, such laws are in place in New Jersey and Maryland and bills are being considered in several other states.
We the undersigned respectfully ask that you support pulse oximetry legislation for critical congenital heart defects at the state level.
Congenital heart defects are the most common of all birth defects, impacting one in 100 newborns each year. For now, most are identified with visual cues, a stethoscope, an x-ray, EKG or echocardiogram. Sadly, anywhere between 25-40% of CHD%u2019s go undiagnosed before or at birth %u2013 and those babies are sent home without intervention. Many %u201Ccommon%u201D murmurs are left to re-evaluation at the baby%u2019s one-week well visit. In a short period of time, these undiagnosed babies can suffer from significant medical complications, developmental delay, learning disabilities, and/or physical disabilities related to brain injury. In the worst cases, undiagnosed babies die.
The good news is that there is a simple, non-invasive screening tool available at every hospital in this country Pulse oximetry has been proven effective in detecting low oxygen levels in the blood %u2013 a significant marker for heart issues in newborns. When administered at the appropriate time after birth, the test has a false positive rate of just .034%. It is over 99% accurate. A recent study shows a seven-fold reduction in missed diagnosis of critical congenital heart defects using pulse oximetry as a supplemental screening tool. When pediatricians or other medical professionals have this tool to use in conjunction with their traditional physical exams, they can make important decisions, at a critical time, to look more closely at a child%u2019s heart and lungs before discharge.
Last fall, the Secretary%u2019s Advisory Committee on Heritable Disorders in Newborns and Children (ACHDNC) %u2013 which is the national committee that reports to Health and Human Services recommended that pulse oximetry be added to the national screening panel. Two states have already passed legislation. One state is developing a program and has funded pulse oximetry screening and several others have pending bills.
On behalf of the thousands of CHD babies who will not see their first birthday this year, we ask that you write legislation making sure every baby in your state is screened with pulse oximetry before discharge from the hospital.