NE Bill Would Require Infant Heart Screenings
Lincoln, NE - Thursday afternoon Nebraska senators debated a bill that would require hospitals and other birthing facilities to conduct heart screenings on newborns. Congenital heart defects account for nearly 30% of infant deaths due to birth defects, according to the CDC.
The screenings, called pulse oximetry screenings, are done when a baby is 24 to 48 hours old. The test is done with a pulse oximeter machine. The device uses sensors to measure oxygen levels in the child's blood and the child's pulse. Low levels may show a sign of a congenital heart defect.
The bill, introduced by Senator Jim Smith of Papillion, was heard Thursday by the Health and Human Services committee. Among those testifying, ten-year-old Cole Klein of Omaha. He did not have a pulse ox screening at birth; at eight weeks old he went into heart failure. He has since undergone three open heart surgeries.
"My son was diagnosed at 53 days of age and he had this chance. And though it was made so much harder that it needed to be. I don't want other people to go through what we went through," Cole's mother, Tiffany Mytty-Klien said.
Seven states currently have laws in place requiring hospitals to conduct a pulse oximetry screening on newborns. Nebraska is one of five additional states that have introduced legislation this year.
The bill, could be sent to the legislature for floor debate.
For more information on pulse oximetry, click here.