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Pulse Oximetry

Updated: Tuesday, August 27 2013, 08:49 AM EDT
In today's Health Alert, it's a test so important that lawmakers in North Carolina are requiring it for all newborns.   

It's called pulse oximetry, and as News 13's Jay Siltzer shows us, it provides either peace of mind or a faster path to treating birth defects of the heart.

Newborn Laney McWhorter is about to get an important screening at Mission Children's Hospital.

It starts with a tiny finger probe that picks up oxygen saturation that is in the blood and the pulse rate of the baby.

Victoria Stephens, Laney's mother, "it was really easy, not invasive, really good."

The result was equally good, showing a strong pulse rate and a normal oxygen saturation level.

That doesn't happen for all newborns, especially preemies.

The test often helps detect congenital heart defects that account for nearly 30 percent of all infant deaths related to birth defects in the U.S.

Melissa Wilson, Mission Nurse Educator, "if a newborn has a positive screening, we would refer them to a cardiologist for a work up so they can get the care and treatment they are going to need."

Sometimes that's surgery, other times it's medication options this family doesn't have to worry about.

"I think it's an awesome test; it gives me good peace of mind to know that she's not going to have any heart problems."

Mission was already providing the test at no cost before the general assembly implemented the mandate.Pulse Oximetry


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