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Saving the Lives of Montana Babies- Why You Should Care About Pulse Oximetry Screening


Guest Blogger: Amanda Andrews, Montana Government Relations Director

Imagine bringing home your newborn baby only to return to the hospital hours later with a baby who is barely breathing.  Unfortunately, this is what sometimes happens to new parents whose babies have undetected congenital heart issues.  This is a scary situation, but we can take steps to make sure we’re doing all we can to help these infants and families.

More than 12,000 babies are born in Montana each year.  Statistically, about 1 in 100 babies will have a birth defect, with heart defects accounting for almost 30% of those defects.  According to these statistics, at least 32 babies every year are born in Montana with a potentially deadly heart defect.  The good news is, these defects can often be caught and treated within the first years of life.  The first step to catching the defect is with a very simple pulse oximetry screening. 

More good news; most hospitals in Montana (74%) are already doing pulse oximetry screening on every newborn.  But, what about that other 26%?  The American Heart Association, along with the March of Dimes and the Department of Health and Human Services, are currently supporting an administrative rule that makes pulse oximetry screening mandatory for all newborns.  The cost of these screenings is relatively small and the test only takes about 45 seconds. This simple screening involves a small strap that goes around the baby’s foot to measure his or her heart rate and blood oxygen.  Most hospitals already have all the equipment they need to perform this simple test. 

What You Can Do

There are 7 hospitals in MT that do not currently screen all their newborns.  What if that is the hospital where your baby, or your niece, nephew, or grandchild is born?  Wouldn’t you want them to take the 45 seconds to perform this potentially lifesaving test? Public comment is being taken right now and we need you to tell decision makers you support this policy. Please click here and take the time to help protect all Montana babies.

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