A simple test designed to discover heart conditions is currently not mandatory for Vermont newborns.
“It only takes a few seconds to identify something so huge,” Vermont mother Kathryn Towle said.
Towle is talking about pulse oximetry, also known as a pulse-ox test.
“This test is very easy to do. It’s basically an oxygen sensor. If you’ve had any kind of medical procedure lately, in a hospital or in an outpatient clinic, they put this on you,” Dr. Prospero Gogo said.
Currently, Vermont does not require newborns to be tested before being discharged from the hospital.
“It’s a $4 test and it’s very quick,” Gogo said.
Kathryn’s three year-old son Jack didn’t get the test before leaving the hospital.
“His heart defect was not discovered until he was three months old at a pediatrician’s check-up, who said, ‘Eh, I think something is off here, go see a specialist in Burlington.’ So we came over to Burlington and we tested him and they identified his heart defect,” Towle said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in every four babies born with a heart defect has a Critical Congenital Heart Disease.
Tessa Daniels knows how scary it is.
“So when he was about seven hours old, he started to turn blue,” Daniels said.
At seven hours old, her son Sawyer (now two and a half years-old) was tested.
“The hospital that Sawyer was born at did not have this in policy so if we were discharged, there would have been a chance that he would either have really bad..or..brain damage,” Daniels said.
“I think we should match the rest of the nation. 46 states do have this as a mandatory state law,” Gogo said.
Sawyer and Jack have since gotten corrective heart surgery, but their parents hope others won’t have to go through what they did.
“It costs $4, it takes 30 seconds, and every child should have it, there’s no excuse not to,” Daniels said.
To learn more about pulse oximetry testing, click here: http://healthvermont.gov/family/cchd/documents/pulse_oxi_screening_parents_ridh.pdf