New testing helps detect heart defects in newborns

5:02 PM, Feb 1, 2013   |    comments
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Newborns are being tested for heart defects under a new law in Tennessee.

The inexpensive and noninvasive test measures the saturation level of oxygen in an infant's blood. A low level can indicate one of seven heart abnormalities.

Le Bonheur Children's Hospital cardiologist Dr. Jean Ballweg calls the law "parent-driven legislation" and told The Commercial Appeal it reduced the risk of newborns being sent home from hospitals with undetected critical health problems.

The legislation is welcome to Holly and Michael Goughnour of Memphis, whose first child died in his mother's arms during a frantic rush to a hospital. The baby had an undetected rare birth defect that killed him after 17 days of life.

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