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New Law On Newborn Heart Screening

March 19, 2013, 6:09 PM by Casey Wonnenberg

New Law On Newborn Heart Screening

Before you take your newborn baby home, you want to make sure they're healthy. But every year hundreds of newborns are sent home from the hospital with undetected heart defects.

A new law in South Dakota aims to save those lives by requiring all hospitals in the state to provide a type of newborn heart screening.

Ashlie Lowe loves being surrounded by pink. She gave birth to her first baby girl, ZyKariana, last weekend.

"Her due date was the 28th of March," Lowe said.

Lowe says her main concern is that ZyKariana is healthy.

So far all the tests, including this pulse oximetry screening, have come back good.

"It's a screening that checks the oxygen content in the blood, and any kind of a heart problem will cause the heart to be less efficient," Sanford Dr. Scott Ecklund said.

Ecklund was the co-sponsor of the bill that will require hospitals to perform the pulse oximetry screening on all newborns before they leave the hospital.

“If you don't catch them early, you could have a sudden infant death and find out later it was a heart defect that caused it," Ecklund said.

Ecklund knows about heart defects first-hand. Not only is he a doctor, but his son was born with a heart defect.

"When he was born, we didn't notice any problems with him, but as he got a little bit older my wife was nursing him and every time she nursed him he'd break out in a sweat," Ecklund said.

Ecklund's son had heart surgery at 18-months-old. He is now a healthy 23-year-old.

"He probably would have been found to have the problem earlier if we would have been doing the screening at that time," Ecklund said.

While this bill will require all hospitals in the state to provide pulse oximetry screenings, many birthing centers already do that.

"You want to catch these things early. If it's a surgical problem that can be corrected, you want to correct it," Ecklund said.

And Lowe is relieved the tests show her daughter is heart healthy. So, she’s ready to take little ZyKariana home.

This new law goes into effect July 1. Several other states, including New Jersey, Tennessee and Indiana already require pulse oximetry screenings.

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