Missouri’s hospitals and doctors are getting ready to start a required test that could save dozens of baby’s lives a year. Screening newborns for critical congenital heart disease is not new but it has not been mandatory in Missouri. A law passed earlier this year makes it mandatory as of January first. Missouri is fairly late to this game. Thirty-three other states have laws making the test mandatory.
It’s a simple test–attaching a pulse oximeter to a child’s finger to measure oxygen levels in the baby’s blood. State health department spokesman Ryan Hobart says it can spot problems that are not otherwise obvious, but could be fatal. The department estimates as many as eighteen out of every ten-thousand babies born in Missouri can have that condition. Health experts say Chronic Congenital Heart Disease makes up 17 to 31 percent of all congenital heart defects that require medical procedures to avoid developmental delays or death.
The requirement is known as Chloe’s law, named for Chloe Manz of Lee’s Summit, who is now five years old. She was born with a congenital heart problem and would have died if her mother had not insisted she receive the test. The result led to life-saving open-heart surgery.