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Missouri Hospitals Implement Lifesaving Law for Newborns

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Wednesday, January 8, 2014   

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Missouri parents can breathe a bit easier when bringing their new babies home. A law mandating the screening of every newborn for potentially fatal heart conditions took effect Jan. 1.

Dr. Stephen Kaine, director of cardiovascular laboratories at Children's Mercy Hospital, said this simple, non-invasive test for congenital heart defects gives doctors the information they need to prevent babies from going home with life-threatening conditions.

"The key to success with the treatment of congenital heart disease is understanding the anatomy and also getting a newborn infant to a treatment facility as quickly as possible," he said.

It's estimated that nine in every 1,000 babies is born with a congenital heart defect, a problem with the structure of the heart. While many are mild, some require catheter procedures, surgery or even heart transplants.

Kaine said Children's Mercy Hospital routinely has conducted these screenings, known as "pulse ox" tests, for some time, but that is not the case at every hospital. That's why Children's Mercy has set up a hotline to help doctors from across the state, just by calling 877-PULSE-OX.

"That will allow a provider to get in touch very quickly with our Children's Mercy neonatology team and then also the pediatric cardiologies," he said, "to try to decide what the best way is to handle a positive screen."

The new law is called Chloe's Law, named for 5-year-old Chloe Manz, a Missouri girl who was born with a rare congenital heart defect that was discovered through a screening just nine hours after her birth.


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