American Heart Association hopes for prompt action from Senate and Governor
(Albany, NY – May 31) It’s simple, noninvasive and quick. And it has the potential to save lives. The state Assembly passed a bill that would make sure all newborns receive a simple pulse oximetry test before discharge. Pulse oximetry, or pulse ox, screening – a sensor put on a finger and foot to calculate the amount of oxygen in the blood stream – is the most effective way to screen for congenital heart defects, the leading cause of death for children with a birth defect.
“It was harrowing to learn that our child needed surgery after a pulse ox test detected a dangerously low oxygen level,” said Kelsey Thomas of Syracuse, who traveled to Albany in April to ask her elected officials to pass the Pulse Ox bill. Her son, Jacob, is now 13 months old. “However, there are mothers out there who don’t know anything is wrong until it is too late. We were lucky. I’m glad the New York state Assembly moved the pulse ox bill one step closer to law.”
““I believe that routine utilization of this simple test will aid in the detection of critical congenital heart defects before babies ever go home from the hospital, thus avoiding potentially disastrous complications,” said Neil Devejian, M.D., chief of the division of pediatric cardiothoracic surgery at Albany Medical Center in Albany, N.Y. “Quite simply, this will save lives.”
Heart defects are the No. 1 defect in newborns, affecting approximately 1 in 100 babies. Thirteen other states call for babies to be screened with a pulse ox test, but New York doesn’t – yet. Wider use of pulse ox screening could identify more than 90 percent of heart defects. In New Jersey, just hours after the pulse ox law took effect, a newborn’s life was saved.
“Every day we wait is a day another baby could go home undiagnosed,” said Julianne Hart, the American Heart Association’s government relations director for New York. “The test is quick painless and cheap. And more importantly, a lifesaver. The Assembly has done the right thing, and we encourage the Senate and the Governor to act to protect our smallest hearts.”
The Pulse Oximetry Bill, A2316/S270, is sponsored by Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, D-Forestburgh and state Sen. William Larkin, R-Cornwall-on-Hudson.