You've outlasted nine months of pregnancy and countless scary tests and screenings. You -- hopefully -- enter your hospital to give birth feeling as confident as possible that your baby is healthy. And then you find out that one simple and cheap screening can make the difference between identifying and treating critical congenital heart defects -- the most common birth defects in newborns -- but guess what? Depending on the state in which you live, whether or not your baby gets a pulse oximeter screening may be a shot in the dark.
Congenital heart defects aren't always noticeable in the hospital. Many parents report taking their babies home and recognizing that something is wrong a day or two later. By that time, sadly, it could be too late to save a baby's life. And the maddening truth is that the test that could save a life costs just $13.50 in equipment costs and nursing time. So what's the problem? Well, it seems not every state mandates that babies are screened for congenital heart defects.
And while many have legislation in place that ensures all hospitals will soon provide this test, right now it's still more or less a crap shoot in far too many places -- including New York, where my child was not screened for heart defects in a well-regarded hospital two years ago. Add to this the fact that 17 states -- 17! -- still don't even have legislation regarding pulse oximeters and, well I don't know about you, but my head is spinning right about now.
Just for the sake of calling out those states -- because they deserve it -- they are: