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Lifesaving Newborn Screenings Gaining Momentum in the West

by Grace H. on Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Congenital heart defects are the leading birth defects affecting newborns in the United States, yet many newborns will leave the hospital undiagnosed. Some of these babies won’t live to see their first birthday and others will face a lifetime of surgeries, developmental delays and other complications.

Early detection and treatment of congenital heart defects can make all the difference. Pulse oximetry is a quick, painless and inexpensive screening tool. New research suggests wider use of pulse oximetry could help identify more than 90 percent of heart defects.

That is why the American Heart Association is working in states across the country to pass legislation that would ensure every newborn is screened for critical congenital heart defects using pulse oximetry.

In the last year alone, the Western States Affiliate has been successful in passing pulse oximetry legislation in Alaska, California, Nevada, Oregon and Utah.

Alaska’s legislation was introduced by Senator Micciche, whose niece, born in Japan, was screened at birth. The screening detected a heart defect that might have otherwise gone undiagnosed. Senator Micciche quickly set a plan in action to ensure all newborns in Alaska are screened. On June 26 Governor Parnell signed the legislation into law!

We are hopeful to bring the same lifesaving screening to babies in Montana. Stay tuned for more about this effort in email Action Alerts and future editions of The Pulse.

Are you interested in helping or sharing your story? Email lindsay.williams@heart.org

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