Lawmakers want new heart screening for newborns

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OKLAHOMA CITY—Two state lawmakers are hoping a proposed change in legislation will save the lives of some of Oklahoma’s youngest residents.

House Bill 1347, by Rep. Dan Kirby, would require hospitals to perform a pulse oximetry screening on every newborn before they are sent home.

“The more common methods for detecting congenital heart defects identify less than half of all cases,” said Kirby, R-Tulsa. “The pulse oximetry screening has been shown to catch some of these cases that would otherwise be missed. It will be a requirement that is easy to comply with and that will ensure a safer start on life by those newborn infants with a congenital heart defect.”

The screening is a noninvasive test that measures the percentage of hemoglobin in blood that is saturated with oxygen.

“By detecting heart defects that may otherwise go unnoticed, this legislation could have an extraordinary impact on the lives of Oklahomans,” said David, R-Porter. “Successful screenings can prevent the tragedy of the unexpected, and potentially fatal, cardiac episodes as newborns get older. House Bill 1347 is another important step in our efforts to make Oklahoma a healthier state.”

Congenital heart defects are the leading killer of infants with birth defects.

The bill will likely be assigned to the House Public Health Committee, where it will be reviewed and voted upon in order to make it to the House floor.

The legislative session convenes Feb. 4.

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