To the Editor,
Congenital heart defects (CHD) are the number one birth defect in the U.S. and the number one killer of infants with birth defects. The American Heart Association strongly supports legislation that would ensure all newborns, prior to being discharged from the birthing facility, are screened for critical congenital heart defects using pulse oximetry to measure blood oxygen levels. Sadly, I lost my own child to CHD and I know this simple test will save other parents from going through the tragic loss we suffered.
My daughter, Samantha Lyn, was born in January 2002, seemingly healthy. It was not until 6 weeks later, after Samantha went into cardiac arrest, when we learned she had been born with an undiagnosed congenital heart defect. A simple pulse oximetry screening could have picked up her CHD and alerted us and her doctors to something which could have been repaired, thereby saving her life. This simple screening should be mandatory for all newborns.
With the treatment advances made possible by research, children born with CHD have a greater chance than ever to live and thrive. Currently, not every baby in NYS will receive pulse ox testing. The journal Pediatrics states that out of 1,000 births, eight babies will have some form of congenital heart disorder. Testing, like this low-cost, non-invasive pulse oximetry can help detect CHD soon after birth and save many lives. I recently visited Washington and Albany to ask lawmakers to sponsor and pass this life-saving bill. I hope every parent joins with me to help save babies lives by signing onto the AHA’s www.yourethecure.org to encourage lawmakers to pass this bill this session.