Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defect, affecting 1 in 110 babies. Many of them don't show up on an ultrasound. Pulse ox screening could help doctors discover and repair heart defects before they turn deadly. Sounds like a good idea to me. Warning: This is the tragic story of a baby who died. It includes an image of her shortly before her death.
This article originally appeared on 02.07.15
Taryn looked perfectly healthy when her parents brought her home. She was growing — thriving, even.
Then one day, the baby made a strange sound. Her breathing became difficult. Her mom called 911 and started CPR.
Taryn died that night in the hospital. She had a heart defect, but no one had thought to check her heart before it stopped working.
Less than 50% of congenital heart defects are diagnosed before birth.
A baby who appears healthy might have a heart that is moments away from stopping.
Luckily, there is a simple, inexpensive, and non-invasive screening called pulse oximetry.
A pulse oximeter shines a red light through the baby's toe, and reports the oxygen levels in the blood. Low levels are cause for further investigation. Practically all hospitals have pulse oximeters on hand.
In 2011, New Jersey became the first state to require pulse ox screening as part of the standard tests a newborn receives. As a result of this screening, over the following three years, 13 babies were diagnosed with a heart defect that could have been fatal if left undetected.
Since 2011, many states have added pulse ox to their newborn screening protocol. Here's a handy map to see if yours is one of them. If you live in one of the seven states that doesn't have a law requiring it, pulse ox should still be available to you in most hospitals. Ask your doctor.
If a law like this could save families from preventable heartbreak at minimal cost, it seems like common sense to me.
Feb. 7-14, 2015, is Congenital Heart Disease Awareness Week.
I don't want you to freak anyone out, but could you maybe spread the awareness by sharing this? You never know whose life you could be saving.
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