Small hearts can sometimes conceal big challenges. Today, Gov. Patrick signed into law a measure that will help the smallest of hearts – babies born with congenital heart defects. The signing of the Pulse Oximetry bill will require screening of all newborns for congenital heart defects.
With congenital heart defects being the No.1 cause of death for children born with a birth defect, early diagnosis is crucial. Ensuring that all newborns receive this simple test before leaving the hospital can save lives. Pulse Ox consists of sensors placed on a baby’s hand and foot to check blood oxygen levels. If their levels are too low, additional tests may be conducted that aid in detecting possibly life-threatening heart defects that might otherwise go undetected. Nearly 1 in 100 children is born with a congenital heart defect.
“The sooner we identify a problem, the sooner we can treat it and let these infants and their families lead the kinds of lives they imagined they would lead,” said Pediatric Cardiologist Dr. Gerald Marx of Boston Children’s Hospital and resident of Dover. “Thank you Governor Patrick, for seeing the sense and simplicity of conducting a pulse ox test on every newborn.”
This commonsense measure, which is quick, painless and inexpensive is in place in twenty-seven other states across the nation. In New Jersey, just hours after the Pulse Ox law took effect, a newborn’s life was saved. The Pulse Ox test will be given to every newborn before discharge from the hospital.
“We knew when we were expecting Jake that he had a heart defect. That knowledge let us take action as soon as he was born. Today, he’s happy and healthy,” said Diane Pickles of Haverhill, mom to Jake and a passionate advocate of the Pulse Ox bill. “I know I speak for moms of children born with congenital heart defects when I say that we can’t help but look at our beautiful heart heroes every day and know how lucky we all are to still have them.”
The bill’s implementation date here in the Commonwealth is January 1, 2015. The Pulse Ox bill was sponsored by Senator Benjamin Downing (D-Pittsfield) and Representative Denise Garlick (D-Needham).