Indiana Senator Brent Waltz Highlights New Guidelines for Infant Heart Disease Screening Oct 31, 2011

In less than a minute and for as little as $10, the life of a newborn can be saved.

Sen. Brent Waltz (R-Greenwood) carried the important issue of pulse oximetry testing to state legislators in a new law passed earlier this year and now, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has validated Indiana's actions by adding the simple procedure to its list of recommended newborn screenings.

Waltz joined Kristine Brite McCormick in what was, at times, an emotional news conference Wednesday to applaud the federal action. McCormick – now a tireless advocate for newborn heart screening – travels around the country telling Cora's story. Cora died five days after her parents took her home from the hospital.

"If pulse oximetry had been used to check Cora, Kristine might still be holding her today," Waltz said. "This is a simple, painless and relatively inexpensive procedure but it can mean the world to a parent by giving them advance warning that their newborn needs medical attention. I'm glad the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services sees the great value in adding this quick testing procedure to newborn care."

Pulse oximetry screening shows doctors how much oxygen is in the blood. Waltz explained that a band-aid type material is placed on the bottom of the infant's foot, with a small red light or "probe." A wire is attached to the probe and connected to a monitor showing the pulse oximetry reading. Results of the screening are usually read in 30 to 60 seconds.

Without the test, what appear to be completely normal, healthy newborns can be released from the hospital even though they have undetected heart difficulties.

"There was no indication anything was wrong," Waltz said of McCormick's child. "Kristine didn't know her daughter had a critical congenital heart disease until it was too late. We are fortunate to have Kristine courageously tell Cora's story over and over again to support pulse oximetry, so other parents can be spared the agony she and her husband had to endure."

Thanks to Waltz's legislation, Indiana has been one of the leaders in this issue. Beginning in January 2012, pulse oximetry testing will be standard for all newborns. New Jersey, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Minnesota have also either passed legislation or are considering similar bills.

"This is one more safety net for our newborns," Waltz said. "The cost for one of these screenings ranges from $1 up to $10. That's a small price to pay to secure the safety of our children."


About the Save Babies Through Screening Foundation
As the only national non-profit organization devoted exclusively to newborn screening advocacy, the mission of the Save Babies Through Screening Foundation is to improve the lives of children by working to prevent death and disabilities resulting from disorders detectable through newborn screening tests. The Foundation is a leader in the national grassroots advocacy movement, media awareness and actively participates on local, state and federal levels to improve newborn screening. The Foundation's goal is to see that every child born is screened successfully, effectively and comprehensively.

Save Babies Through Screening Foundation
P.O. Box 42197 * Cincinnati, OH 45242 * 1-888-454-3383