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Texas Bill Could Require Heart Testing Of Newborns
A Texas bill wants to make a heart test mandatory for all newborn babies.
The screening would help catch babies with heart defects before they leave the hospital. The test is called a Pulse Oximetry Screening and the American Heart Association says it will save lives.
Each year in Texas roughly 20,000 babies are born with some type of birth defect. The most common develop in the heart.
"You can imagine if a heart is not formed right, then soon after a kid goes home, especially if it's a real abnormal heart, they will certainly get into trouble," said Dr. Amit Khera of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
That could've happened to Christian Popp of San Antonio, but his father says a Pulse Ox Screening caught his defect early.
"He was born in 2009 and a pediatrician using pulse oximetry detected his congenital heart defect and he was able to receive open-heart surgery," said Curtis Popp.
Catching a heart defect before a baby is sent home is critical. That's why a Texas lawmaker introduced the bill that would mandate the screening for all newborns.
"We're still missing a lot of these kids, and the problem is, once that diagnosis is delayed, sometimes when they're being rushed back to the hospital, they are critically ill," said Dr. Khera.
A number of Texas hospitals already perform the Pulse Ox Screening. The bill that would have it performed on all newborns in the state has not yet been scheduled for a committee hearing at the legislature.
Not a lot is known about the causes of most birth defects, but there are a number of ways that women can cut their risk. Taking a multivitamin every day that contains folic acid and avoiding alcohol and smoking can protect both mother and baby from heart defects.
By Deeda Payton