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Quick test detects congenital heart defects in infants

With so many advances in medicine, it sometimes seems unreal that so many babies still suffer injuries or death during birth or shortly afterwards. For instance, if babies do not receive an adequate amount of oxygen during birth they can suffer from the effects for the rest of their lives. Many Maryland parents are likely familiar with the shock of learning one's baby has a birth defect.

Congenital heart defects are a common issue for newborns. For years, many babies born with heart defects were not diagnosed and their heart defects resulted in their deaths as infants.

However, a new non-invasive test has the ability to detect congenital heart defects within days of a newborn's birth. The American Heart Association reportedly supports requiring this new test be done on all newborns. By testing every infant, many congenital heart defects could be detected that would otherwise go undiagnosed.

The new test uses a pulse oximeter to measure a baby's blood oxygen level. By placing a sensor on the baby's hand and foot, a blood oxygen level can be determined. Low oxygen levels may indicate a heart defect; a baby whose test shows concerning results would be looked at further.

Currently, only four states require pulse oximetry for all newborns. However, this requirement could expand to other states quickly. When a baby is born with a birth defect, it is sometimes caused by a congenital problem, like a heart defect. However, other times, it could be due to something that occurred during birth.

If it is determined that the baby suffered a birth defect as a result of a medical professional's actions during birth, the baby's family could have grounds for a medical malpractice case.

Source: Madison County Courier, "One simple test can save babies' lives," Dec. 3, 2012

To learn more about filing a medical malpractice claim for a birth injury, please visit our Laurel medical malpractice webpage.

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