(10/16/13) - Earlier this month, the Michigan Department of Community Health
announced that, starting next April, they will require every newborn be screened
for congenital heart diseases.
Thirty percent of infant deaths in the U.S. are due to congenital heart defects. The test is a little controversial, but is becoming more widely viewed as a simple way to save babies lives.
Tania Rocchio holds her newborn, John Carlo, tight after learning the great news: he passed the pulse oximetry test, which screens for heart defects.
Dr. Robert used a light source and sensor to measure John Carlo's blood oxygen levels. A healthy saturation is 96 percent or greater.
Koppel says John Carlo should have a healthy heart, "although we can't be absolutely certain that the baby doesn't have an underlying potentially lethal problem, we know that that's far less likely than it was a generation ago."
Now John Carlo's mom, who has a family history of heart problems, has more peace of mind. But, the test is not mandatory in every state.
That may be because there is some fear pulse oximetry can also lead to false positive results that are costly and stressful for the family. A British study shows a false positive rate of one in 3,000 cases.
Koppel believes early detection outweighs any negatives, "treatment is so effective at saving lives."
Right now, every Michigan newborn is tested for 54 different disorders. Several hospitals are already using the pulse oximetry test, though it will not be required until April.
Studies show one in six babies who die from critical congenital heart disease are under-diagnosed and unrecognized cases. The test is relatively inexpensive, too.
ABC12 Main Station