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New heart screening can save infant lives | News

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New heart screening can save infant lives
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MUSKEGON, Mich. (WZZM) - Welcoming a new baby brings a lot of stress, from picking out a name to making sure you have everything you need, and of course hoping they're healthy.

A lakeshore hospital is checking one more thing off the list for parents to worry about. Mercy Health in Muskegon has started a new program that screens every newborn for possible undetected critical congenital heart defects.

"They can look very good in the first 24 hours, but then they can suddenly get very ill two to three days after we see them," said Dr. Michael Galvin, the head of pediatrics for Mercy Health.

Every hospital screens newborns for heart conditions during their first exam immediately after birth, but a new screening at Mercy Health's Hackley Hospital is taking it one step further and implementing the Department of Health and Human Services recommendation to screen infants for critical congenital heart disease. "They have shown that we can identify a couple of very high risk babies by doing a couple of very simple things," says Galvin.

The screening is as simple as attaching a sensor to the infant's left foot and right hand and measuring the amount of oxygen in the blood. Galvin adds that the entire test takes less than five minutes.

Only about one baby in every thousand will fail the test, but it's a test that could save their lives. "This is just one more thing that can help us look for a needle in a haystack. That one baby in a thousand that has a real big problem."

About a year ago, the Department of Health and Humane Services recommended that all babies have this screening at your pediatrician or inquire during your hospital birthing tour if this test is done.

And as far as cost? Research has found it only costs between $5 and $10 dollars per infant.

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