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Missouri to Start Screening Newborns for Heart Disease

This is a new Missouri state law that will take effect on January 1st.
JOPLIN, MO.--- Missouri health care providers will start screening newborns for heart disease. This is a new Missouri state law that will take effect on January 1st. It will require health officials to test every newborn baby for heart disease before leaving the hospital.

"The most common congenital birth defect is congenital heart disease. It's about 1% of babies will have congenital heart defect," said Dr. Paul Petry, Freeman Health System Pediatrician. 

Doctor Paul Petry is a pediatrician at Freeman Health System. He says about 25% of babies affected by a heart disease will have a critical defect.

"Something that requires surgery or intervention, catheter intervention within the first year of life," said Dr. Petry. 

Dr. Petry says the screening is a valuable tool to find heart disease that doesn't make itself present until after babies leave the hospital. Plus, it's an inexpensive, noninvasive procedure. 

"When the nurse takes the vital signs, they do the pulse oximetry on the right hand and one on the feet, and that's that," said Dr. Petry. 

The director of maternal child services at Freeman Health System tells us there are seven diseases the test will detect.

"It's a test that screens for certain critical congenial heart diseases, it's not something that can pick up every condition out there possible," said Sharon Henderson, Freeman Director of Maternal Child Services. 

She says the test is vital, otherwise infants are sent home and a life threatening heart condition could possibly develop. 

"Saving one baby's life is worth everything," said Henderson. 

Freeman Health System started screening for infant heart disease about six months ago. According to the State Department of Health and Senior Services, about 140 babies are born in Missouri each year with heart disease.

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