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Senator Ring Helps Give Newborns a Chance at Healthier Lives

by Molly S. on Monday, November 19, 2012

Today, the American Heart Association joined medical professionals and parents to announce efforts to protect the hearts of Florida’s newborns.

State Senator Jeremy Ring of Margate, Florida, will file legislation that would ensure all newborns in Florida receive pulse oximetry screening for critical congenital heart defects prior to hospital discharge. “Congenital heart defects are the number one killer of infants with birth defects,” said Senator Ring, “Why would we not insist that every newborn in Florida receive this simple test – one many are already receiving?”

Pulse oximetry screening of newborns has been found to dramatically increase the diagnosis of critical congenital heart defects in children. By placing a noninvasive monitor on a baby’s right hand and either foot, doctors can obtain readings that provide early warning signs of low oxygen levels in the baby’s bloodstream, which could indicate the presence of possible heart defects. If heart disease is detected, health professionals can ensure that treatment begins immediately, often before symptoms can become life threatening.

Two nurses performed a demonstration of a pulse oximetry screening on a baby to show how quickly, painlessly and non-invasively this simple test can be used to save the lives of new babies across Florida.

“My daughter was fortunate enough to have her congenital heart defects diagnosed via ultrasound during my pregnancy,” said Alyssa Brown, a Tallahassee mom. “But when prenatal diagnosis is not possible, pulse oximetry is the next best thing. It is cheap, painless, fast and can save lives. I can’t think of one reason this simple screening test should not be done for every Florida newborn.”

The CDC estimates that 11.6 of every ten thousand children born in the United States are born with a critical congenital heart defect. That would equate to 248 infants per year. We cannot thank Senator Ring enough for his swift action and support of this life-saving issue.

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