New law requires newborns be screened for congenital heart defects

By WEEK Producer

Credit: MGN online

New law requires newborns be screened for congenital heart defects

August 21, 2013 Updated Aug 21, 2013 at 11:15 AM CDT

A new law could save the lives of newborns in Illinois.

House Bill 2661, the Congenital Heart Defect Screening Act, requires every baby born in Illinois be screened for critical congenital heart disease (CCHD).

“This law will help save lives across the state for years to come by ensuring that every newborn in Illinois is screened for critical congenital heart defects via a cheap, quick, and non-invasive pulse oximetry test,” said Joe Goldzweig, a member of the American Heart Association’s Illinois Advocacy Committee and a national adviser to Mended Little Hearts.

Congenital heart defects account for nearly 30 percent of infant deaths due to birth defects.

Some babies born with a heart defect appear healthy at first and can be sent home with their families before the heart defect is detected. Those babies are at risk for having serious complications within the first few days or weeks of life and often require emergency care.

The non-invasive pulse oximetry screening, or pulse ox, consists of placing sensors on a baby’s hand or foot to check oxygen levels in the child’s blood along with the heart rate.

If their levels are too low, additional tests may be conducted to check for critical heart defects that might go undetected.

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