pulse ox

Natalie left the hospital on April 22, 2007 with an undetected Critical Congenital Heart Defect (CCHD). This does not have to happen when there is a tool out there to help screen newborn babies.

It’s call pulse oximetry.

With every heart checkup and pediatrician visit she has, Natalie’s “pulse ox” is taken: it’s the use of a pulse oximeter to measure how much saturation of oxygen she has in her blood:

Many nowadays are digital and some look like cloth band aids that wrap around the finger. If you’ve had a child born in a hospital, chances are, the mom had a pulse ox attached to her finger during labor and delivery, too. Here in The Queen’s home, we call it the “ET light”.

Did you know that pulse oximetry use in newborns can be an excellent tool to help detect a heart defect? While not 100% effective it’s as effective as you can get for such a painless, quick, and cheap tool. There are usually no signs that something is wrong with a baby’s heart at birth so when a newborn appears healthy and has Apgar scores of 9 (Natalie did and went home undetected) that’s when the chance of a baby going home completely undetected happens. This can be fatal. Many babies go home and pass away unexpectedly because of this lack of screening.

Currently, there are only 2 states in this country that screen every newborn. They are New Jersey and Indiana. By fall 2012 Maryland will join that list. But only 2. I know that we can do better. There are advocates across the country who are doing everything they can to have legislation passed, so every state makes sure that babies are screened for critical heart defects. Please visit:


That site has an enormous amount of information for expectant moms, new parents, and for everyone else interested in learning about undetected Congenital Heart Defects and pulse oximetry. Also helpful- what to do if your state has no current law.

Remember, 1 in 100 babies born in the US end up with some sort of heart defect- the absolute #1 birth defect in babies. That’s a lot of babies that should never go home undetected.

A bill was recently introduced in Colorado for pulse ox screening but didn’t pass..yet. We were very fortunate that a resolution passed making February 24th, 2012 Congenital Heart Defect Day in Colorado. We were there, cheering on families like ours, like Amanda’s and like so many others. Take a look:

But there’s so much more work that needs to be done. There are pilot programs we are eager to see began and results properly used to help determine the logistics of what saturation would be considered as a red flag and what is considered healthy. These pilot studies are fueled by the fact that Colorado has such a high variation of elevation. They don’t Denver the “mile high city” for nothing. To help support this cause, please visit the official Pulse Ox Colorado page that I helped create and click “like”.


Remember! Regardless of where you live, please request a pulse ox to be used if you’re expecting a child. And as always, pass the word along to friends and family who are expecting. : )

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