Life-Saving Screening to begin on Newborns - WBAY

Life-Saving Screening to begin on Newborns

Updated:
An emergency rule requiring Wisconsin hospitals to screen newborns for congenital heart defects takes effect Thursday.

Sara Schuh's 7-year-old daughter, Rayna, was born with a heart defect.

"Her heart was not connected to her lungs. Something's that's typically fatal within the first few months of life," said Schuh.

However, Rayna wasn't typical. Her problem wasn't discovered until she was 4 years old. Shortly after her diagnosis, she underwent open-heart surgery.

"We found out that that simple little pulse [oximetry] test could have changed the course for Rayna," Schuh said. 

The test will now be given to all babies before they leave the hospital.

"This is an easy way for us to check, because we can't always hear a murmur. With these diseases, we don't always see a difference right away," said Dr. Andrea French, Pediatrician at Prevea Allouez Health Clinic.

Schuh worked with lawmakers for the past couple of years, working to create this legislation. She said her daughter is a "miracle" and wanted to minimize infant deaths.

"It really became our mission to make a difference," said Schuh.

The test is non-invasive. A testing strip, often compared to a Band-Aid, is wrapped around the infant's finger or palm and toe and measures the oxygen levels and pulse.

"This is an easy way for us to check and be safe to make sure that we're sending a baby home in a safe way," French said. She said babies with congenital heart defects typically need intervention within the first week of life.

"Most babies that have what she has would go home and get very very critically ill and a lot of them pass away," said Schuh.

About 40,000 babies are born with congenital heart defects every year.

"The state of Wisconsin has stepped up to the bat, stepped up, and they've made sure that our kids our taken care of," Schuh said.
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