Thirty percent of infant deaths in the U.S. are due to congenital heart defects. There’s now a quick and easy way to test newborns, but not all hospitals are doing it.
Tania Rocchio holds her newborn son tight after she found out he passed the test.
Dr. Robert Koppel performed a pulse-oximetry test, which screens for deadly heart problems in newborns.
A light source and sensor measures the blood oxygen levels. A healthy saturation is 96 percent or greater. Dr. Koppel says little John Carlo has a healthy heart.
"Although we can't be absolutely certain that the baby doesn't have an underlying potentially lethal problem, we know that that’s far less likely than it was a generation ago," Dr. Koppel, medical director at Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York.
Rocchio says there are heart problems in her family, so she has more peace of mind. It's only mandatory in some states.
There is some fear it can also lead to false positive results that are costly and stressful for the family, but a study out of Britain showed a false positive rate of one in 3,000 cases.
Dr. Koppel believes early detection outweighs any negatives.
"Treatment is so effective at saving lives," Dr. Koppel said.
It’s one test that could help ensure little John Carlo and thousands like him get the chance to live a long and healthy life.
Although the test is not mandatory in Washington, more hospitals are starting to offer it. Seattle Children’s has developed resources for providers and for parents to be.
Seattle Children’s – Heart Screening for Newborns