Guest Blogger: Amanda Andrews, Montana Government Relations Director
As of July 1st 2014, pulse oximetry screening is mandatory for all newborn babies in the state of Montana. This is a crucial Administrative Rule that was put forth by the Montana Department of Health and Human Services with support from The American Heart Association, The March of Dimes, and physicians from around the state. This might sound like a mundane rule passage, but it’s truly an incredible step towards ensuring the health of all babies born in Montana.
Why is this Important?
The American Academy of Pediatrics has identified pulse oximetry screening as a crucial action for identifying babies born with critical congenital heart defects (CCHDs). Heart defects are the cause of 24% of infant deaths due to birth defects. As CCHDs are life threatening, it is essential that hospitals take all steps necessary to begin the screening process before serious issues arise.
If you follow our blog, you may remember the story of Colter Cross, a little boy born with a CCHD. Colter passed the standard hospital tests and was sent home with no pulse oximetry screening. Luckily, Colter happened to have a checkup with his doctor before his heart disease took his life. He was given a pulse oximetry screening at 4 days old during his first doctor’s appointment. During the screening they found low oxygen levels and sent him to see a cardiologist immediately. Colter went on to fight an incredible battle and is now an active and precocious 2 year old. You can read Colter’s full story here.
I am proud of my home state for implementing mandatory pulse oximetry screening. This simple, non-invasive, and inexpensive test can detect 90% of CCHDs. Previously, there were 7 hospitals in Montana that were not screening every newborn. Now, every baby born in in our state will have this life-saving screening. To hear more about this, or to help this screening become mandatory across the country, email me at [email protected]
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