Heart test that saved baby


This test is very simple to perform - any midwife could administer this; it takes very little time, is non-invasive and causes no pain for the baby. It is not (yet) routine in Australian hospitals, although some are performing it.

... Baby Charlie is the apple of his mother's eye. A little more than three months ago he was born, seemingly healthy ...

"We were packed ready to go literally on our way out the door" ...

But Charlie still needed two newborn screens. One, the heel prick is mandatory. The baby's heel is poked, drawing a spot of blood. The sample is then tested to detect rare genetic disorders. The other newborn test is voluntary.

... It's called pulse-oximetry. There's no pain, no poke, just a reading of the oxygen level in a baby's blood. If a newborn baby's reading is above 90, it signals a healthy heart. When Charlie got his test, at first no one believed the oxygen levels.

"... they just kept registering in the 60s. I remember at that point looking at my husband and thinking, there's something wrong," Lindsay said.

The test had picked up a life-threatening defect in Charlie's heart ... "It tells us there could be a problem. And the number one problem we're looking for is congenital heart disease," ...

The babies are given the pulse-oximetry test at a day old. It's a crucial window of time before a baby would show heart defect symptoms, such as breathing or feeding trouble, or blue skin.

"My big passion comes from babies that do not have this test that show up in our emergency room or clinic, very sick or very ill with serious heart disease that could have could have been detected earlier," said Dr. Park.

After his pulse-oximetry test baby Charlie was rushed the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit ... at just six days old Charlie had open heart surgery.

... parents of newborns can ask for the test if a hospital doesn't routinely offer it.

... undetected heart defects are the number one cause of infant death from birth defects.

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