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Heart pulse screenings for newborns get support in Oklahoma

Moms show up at legislative committee hearing backing a measure that would require pulse oximetry screenings on all newborns.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Published: February 13, 2013

Initial signs indicated Ashley Brown's newborn, Fayelen, was a healthy baby. Three months later the infant was undergoing open-heart surgery.

Brown, of Skiatook, said a simple test at the hospital could have determined her baby had a congenital heart defect and how well her baby's heart was functioning. Instead, she had to rush her daughter to a hospital in Tulsa and then on to a Dallas hospital for open-heart surgery.

Brown said her daughter had a rare congenital heart defect that kills 75 percent of babies who do not have open heart surgery within two weeks.

Brown and Fayelen, now 2, showed up at Tuesday's meeting of the House of Representatives Public Health Committee to support passage of House Bill 1347.

The measure, by Rep. Dan Kirby, R-Tulsa, would require pulse oximetry screenings on all newborns. It passed 9-1 and now goes to the full House.

The legislation has the backing of the Oklahoma State Medical Association.

“The test takes just seconds to run but will help save the lives of many Oklahoma babies born with a heart defect,” said Dr. John Robinson, the medical association's president.

A survey of 59 hospitals that have birthing facilities in the state show the test is being done or will be done shortly in all but one, said Patti Davis, executive vice president of the Oklahoma Hospital Association. The group supports the concept, but would prefer it be included as a standard of care for hospitals within the state Health Department instead of a state law to require the procedure.

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