In the News . . .

Lawmakers Want Heart Screenings for Newborns
Thu, 31 Jan 2013

OKLAHOMA CITY – As America gets ready to celebrate National Wear Red Day, two state lawmakers are preparing a push to require a more effective heart screening of Oklahoma’s youngest residents.

House Bill 1347, by state Rep. Dan Kirby, would require hospitals and other birthing facilities to perform a pulse oximetry screening on every newborn prior to discharge from the facility.

“The more common methods for detecting congenital heart defects identify less than half of all cases,” said Kirby, R-Tulsa. “The pulse oximetry screening has been shown to catch some of these cases that would otherwise be missed. It will be a requirement that is easy to comply with and that will ensure a safer start on life by those newborn infants with a congenital heart defect.”

The pulse oximetry screening is a noninvasive test that measures the percentage of hemoglobin in blood that is saturated with oxygen.

Congenital heart defects are the No. 1 killer in infants with birth defects.

State Sen. Kim David, who will carry the legislation in the Oklahoma Senate, said such screenings can give newborns the best chance to live longer, healthier lives.

“By detecting heart defects that may otherwise go unnoticed, this legislation could have an extraordinary impact on the lives of Oklahomans,” said David, R-Porter. “Successful screenings can prevent the tragedy of the unexpected, and potentially fatal, cardiac episods as newborns get older. House Bill 1347 is another important step in our efforts to make Oklahoma a healthier state.”

House Bill 1347, will most likely be assigned to the House Public Health Committee, where members will review the legislation and vote to send it on to the full House.

The legislative session convenes Feb. 4, 2013.