The 1 Important Test Every Baby Should Get After Birth

Rant 14

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: 

New Mexico
Rhode Island
Our insurance companies make a fortune profiting from the many tests and sonograms we take throughout our pregnancies -- why is this incredibly important screening being overlooked? I will make sure I interrogate my new gynecologist at this week's appointment as to whether the hospital where my next baby will be born provides pulse oximeter screenings. 
Were you aware of the importance of this screening? 
Image Via David Quitoriano/Flickr

baby first year, baby health, doctor visits, in the news, newborns, safety


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nonmember avatar KL

This article is a bit misleading. Not all pulse oximeters have the ability to screen neonates and the pulse ox devices that are available in stores may not have the sensitivity or accuracy to help in the detection of CCHD. I say this as someone who works for a relevant medical device company.

nonmember avatar Melissa

I'm guessing my girls where some of the lucky ones to get tested in Georgia

Wilda... WildatHeart918

My daughter had one of the CHD's not covered by this test. I thank god everyday that my pediatrician caught it on a routine screening. She had heart surgery 4 months ago and is doing great!

nonmember avatar Chris

Kentucky screens for CCHD effective 4/17/13

Crissi Parry

Legislating unneccassry tests is intrusive and assumptive.  The tests should legally be made available to parents of newborns, but not required by law.  I remember battling my hospital after they did the PKU test on my newborn without telling me.  I woke up in the hospital room to my baby screaming in pain, and they were sticking him without having said a word to me.  I about grabbed my baby and ran out of that hospital.  While I totally support and appreciate medical science and the advances that save lives every day, forcing it on us like a conglomerate, is why so many women fear hospital births.  I've made fun of the film 'The business of being born" as being over the top, but seriously, delivery has become such a corporate assembly line, that more legislature is not what's needed, more choices are. 

nonmember avatar Mindy

I live in the state of Pennsylvania and gave birth 1 week ago and even though my state is on that list my daughter was given this test

Young... Young_Hot_Mamma

I am in California, it was NOT done with my first pregnancy and my Son ended up dying of Coarctation of the aorta at 6 weeks old, his routine doctor appointments were all perfect no one had even a slight clue that anything was wrong, but because of that my pregnancies were considered higher risk and so my next three babies were checked for everything under the sun and if there was even a "maybe" with anything it was looked over more than once. While I think it should be mandatory for all states? hospitals? I know that like with everything else it could be wrong or not pick up on something wrong 

nonmember avatar Amart

Yes a PKU test should not be done because of course you'd want to find out weeks later that your baby indeed had it and was caused unnecessary brain damage. As for the pulse ox test it is non invasive and 100% necessary... I mean again would you want up find out your baby had a CHD when you found them blue andunresponsive in their crib... Geez...

Dolph... Dolphins54559

I just had my daughter a little less than 3 weeks ago in PA and they did one on her automatically...

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