Governor signs Heart Screenings for Newborns Bill

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin today signed legislation to require a heart screening of newborns before they leave the hospital where they are born.

The new law, House Bill 1347, by state Rep. Dan Kirby and state Sen. Kim David, will require hospitals and other birthing facilities to perform a pulse oximetry screening on every newborn prior to discharge from the facility. The bill received unanimous approval in the Oklahoma Senate and nearly unanimous approval in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

“It has been a pleasure to work with Senator Kim David and my colleagues on this important bill,” said Kirby, R-Tulsa. “Giving newborns the best chance at a long and healthy life is policy we can all get behind. Pulse oximetry screenings are the newest and best way to detect congenital heart defects that are often not identified by other methods. Requiring these screenings will ensure more newborns survive their first weeks of life and have fewer health problems as they continue to grow and develop.”

The pulse oximetry screening is a noninvasive test that measures the percentage of hemoglobin in blood that is saturated with oxygen.

“I want to thank Representative Kirby for introducing this important, live-saving piece of legislation and thank our colleagues for their tremendous support,” said David, R-Porter. “This simple, noninvasive procedure will help save so many newborns in our state and give others a better quality of life. This is an exciting day for Oklahoma babies.”

Congenital heart defects are structural abnormalities of the heart that are present at birth. They can range in severity from simple problems, such as holes between chambers of the heart, to severe malformations, such as the complete absence of one of more chambers or valves. Some critical congenital heart defects can cause severe and life-threatening symptoms which require intervention within the first days of life.

Congenital heart defects are the No. 1 killer in infants with birth defects.