House bill would require additional newborn test

Newborns go through many screenings and tests, but the American Heart Association has recommended that one more be added to the list and a new bill would require it in every birthing center in the state.

"It's performed to try and pick up any congenital heart disease before the baby goes home and gets into trouble," said Dr. Cynthia Voelker, the Chief of Pediatrics at Woman's Hospital

The test is a Pulse Oximetry Test which measures the amount of oxygen in the blood through a small monitor that is wrapped around a baby's wrist and foot.

"If there is a difference or if it's low enough, then we know something is not right with the baby and we have to perform another workup.  Either something is wrong with the baby's lungs or the baby's heart," said Voelker.

The test only takes a few minutes, and it can reveal whether or not a baby has congenital heart disease in a way many of the current new born screenings cannot.

"Sometimes, just by a physical exam, heart disease is not picked up," Voelker.

In 2010, the American Heart Association recommended that every newborn have the Pulse Ox Test which only costs $2.  Representative Ledricka Thierry has proposed House Bill 322 which would require the test.

"We should be able to pick up most heart disease before the baby goes home," said Voelker. "We can definitely prevent a lot of mortality and morbidity for the baby that doesn't have to happen with this simple test."

House Bill 322 currently sits with the Committee for Health and Welfare.

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