Assembly Unanimously Passes Pulse Oximetry Screening Bill

Albany, NY – Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther (D, I, WF -Forestburgh) today announced unanimous passage of legislation that would require pulse oximetry, or pulse ox, screening on newborns (A.2316B). The test, which is simple, quick, and painless could help identify potentially fatal critical congenital heart defects (CCHDs).

“We have lost too many babies to CCHDs that could have been corrected had they been caught in time,” said Assemblywoman Gunther. “I’ve met parents who, thanks to this simple, non-invasive test, will be celebrating their child’s birthdays throughout their long, healthy and happy lives.”

For newborns, pulse ox screening involves taping a small sensor to their foot while the sensor beams red light through the foot to measure how much oxygen is in the blood. This screening is effective at detecting some CCHDs that may otherwise go undetected by current screening methods like prenatal ultrasounds and clinical examinations – which identify less than half of all defects.

According to the American Heart Association, heart defects are the number one defect in newborns, affecting 1 in 100 babies. Thirteen other states call for babies to be screened with a pulse ox test. Wider use of pulse ox screening could identify more than 90 percent of heart defects. In New Jersey, just hours after the pulse ox law took effect, a newborn’s life was saved.

The bill, passed unanimously in the Assembly, is currently in the Senate Finance Committee.