Blood oxygen test for babies helps detect potential defects - AmericaNowNews.com

Blood oxygen test for babies helps detect defects

It's called a pulse oximetry test.

Bayleigh Crawford got one the day she was born. She's on her way to get another.  Lane Regional Medical Center near Baton Rouge, La. screens all of its newborns as a matter of policy.

Healthy newborns should have an oxygen level of 95 within 10 minutes of birth.

The pulse oximetry test is done with a tiny light sensor that's taped around a baby's wrist. It measures the amount of oxygen in a baby's blood.

It is not meant to target heart defects, which is what new guidelines will likely call for, but it can help doctors pinpoint a number of other problems that could put a newborn's life in danger.

Bayleigh's mom thinks it's a great idea.

"If there's a problem, I want to know about it as soon as possible," she says.

Heart defects can be detected a number of ways during pregnancy and in the nursery, which is why a lot of hospitals -- especially larger ones with a high volume of births -- don't do them on all newborns.

Lane believes doing one on every child born there not only positions the hospital to implement pulse ox heart screenings in the future. They say it's also a good way to monitor a baby for other potentially deadly complications before they happen.

Bayleigh's big sister McKenzie doesn't know much about hiccups or tests that could save her little sister's life. If medical experts have their way, she won't have to when it comes to blood oxygen screenings that single out a variety of potential problems, including heart defects.

For now, the pulse ox testing is the preliminary phase. But in the future, doctors say every newborn should have one.  

Copyright 2012 America Now.  All rights reserved.

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