Contact: Dan Doyle
April 18, 2012
A bill that would require hospitals to conduct a simple, inexpensive test on newborns to detect possible heart defects passed the Senate today on a unanimous and bipartisan ‘consent’ vote after it was introduced by state Senator Terry Gerratana (D-New Britain), the Senate chairman of the Public Health Committee.
This bill—if passed into law—would require all health care institutions caring for newborn infants on or after January 1, 2013 to perform a ‘pulse oximetry’ test, which measures how much oxygen is in the blood by placing a small light sensor on the infant’s hand or foot. The test is used to screen infants for critical congenital heart disease and other conditions.
“This test will help detect any defects or disease in infants, long before they are manifested,” Sen. Gerratana said. “We’ve all heard stories about high school athletes and others who collapse on the court of the playing field, sometimes fatally. This simple test could help save some of those lives.”
According to the centers for Disease Control, about 4,800 babies are born every year in the U.S. with one of seven critical, congenital heart defects, and about 280 of those babies are sent home from hospital nurseries with undetected heart problems. The pulse oximetry test—which costs about $10 to administer—can detect some of these infants, who would then be seen by a cardiologist and receive specialized treatment that could prevent death or disability.
At its public hearing before the Public Health Committee in March, the bill was supported by doctors, nurses, the parents of children born with heart defects, the March of Dimes and the American Heart Association.
The bill does make provisions, as allowed by law, which the test does not have to be done if the newborn’s parents object on religious grounds. It also requires the testing to be done as soon as medically appropriate.
Chair: Public Health
Vice Chair: Children
Member: Appropriations; Judiciary
Legislative Office Building
Hartford, CT 06106-1591
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