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Mississippi Pushes for Pulse Ox Screenings

by Julie H. on Tuesday, February 19, 2013

For every 1,000 Mississippi babies born in 2011, 9.4 died before their first birthday, according to the state's health office. This places our state with the highest rate of infant mortality in the nation. The American Heart Association wants to do our part to move Mississippi up the list and save these little lives.  

That’s why we're working to ensure all birthing facilities screen all newborns for congenital heart defects, the #1 cause of death in infants with birth defects. Hospitals can use a simple, non-invasive test called pulse oximetry that determines oxygen levels in the baby’s blood. A low level can be a sign of congenital heart disease and further testing might be needed. It is cost-effective and offers a positive return on investment.  

We recently partnered with the American Academy of Pediatrics, the March of Dimes and Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital on this issue and sent a tjoint letter to all birthing facilities across the state. Several facilities are already performing pulse ox screening, but not all. It is the hope of the Genetics Screening Council and the partnering organizations that all facilities will adopt protocol. Efforts will then be made to codify the protocol in order to ensure uniformity.

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