Law mandates another newborn screening, but at least one area hospital already does it

A new Missouri law mandates a hospitals screen newborn babies for congenital heart disease within 48 hours of birth.

Freeman hospital has put the test into practice since February. A pulse oximeter is used to see if there are differences in the oxygen saturation between a baby’s upper limbs and lower limbs.

The screening doesn’t make the diagnosis but would prompt further tests of the heart.

Jayme Harper believes her daughter Lauren would have benefited from the test, which all say is simple, quick and painless. Lauren’s heart problem wasn’t discovered until she was a month old.

“The problem could have been solved sooner had they picked up on it when she was born,” says Harper. “We could have got her treatment sooner, maybe she wouldn’t have a pacemaker even, who knows what it could have found?”

“It would make for an earlier diagnosis for some of these babies, earlier diagnosis can lead to less surgeries and it can also save their lives,” says Kelley Miller, R.N., a charge nurse at the Freeman NICU.

Under the new Missouri law the test will be administered within the first 48 hours of birth, beginning in 2014.