Letters to the Editor

Mack letter: Newborn screening

September is Newborn Screening Awareness Month — a good time to talk about why Idaho should require a lifesaving, simple test called pulse oximetry.

One of the most dangerous conditions for a newborn is a critical congenital heart defect (CCHD), which if detected late or missed can result in death or severe disability. The defect occurs in one out of every 4,000 births. Yearly in Idaho, 228 infants have congenital heart defects, 57 of which are critical. In addition to saving lives, early detection also saves money — an estimated $40,385 per child. The American College of Cardiology, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association agree that the most effective way to detect the heart defect is pulse oximetry. This painless test measures oxygen levels, costs between $0.50 and $6.50 per infant, and takes 45 seconds.

Forty-five states require pulse oximetry screening, but Idaho does not. The Idaho Chapter of the American College of Cardiology urges the Idaho Legislature to pass legislation in the 2017 session requiring all babies receive this irreplaceable test. We also encourage parents of newborns to request a pulse oximetry test at 24 hours of age.

No Idaho babies should be able to slip through the cracks.

Gordon Mack, M.D., on behalf of the American College of Cardiology Idaho Chapter, Boise

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