Wisconsin News

Health officials pushing for heart tests for newborns

LA CROSSE, WI - Health experts want all newborns screened for congenital heart disease and are turning to Wisconsin lawmakers for help.

They're pushing for a bill that would require all hospitals to use a pulse oximeter test. The test measures oxygen saturation in the blood.

Groups like the American Heart Association, March of Dimes, and American Academy of Pediatrics support the change.

There aren't very many warning signs of congenital heart failure in the first few days after birth, but doctors say this test can catch it early. "The oxygen level that we can measure can be a subtle indicator that there's something wrong, and then from there it can prompt us to go ahead and do an ultrasound of the heart, do additional tests to discover exactly what's causing that low oxygen level and that's something that we may not even be able to see clinically," said Dr. Susan MacLellan from Gundersen Health System.

Mayo Clinic Health System in La Crosse has been doing the tests for the past four years. Gundersen Health System has been doing the tests since January.

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