As discussed yesterday, screening for potential birth defects, abnormalities, and other developmental defects in children has been the focus of significant research over the past few years. These new techniques are replacing previously invasive procedures that presented unnecessary risks to children. In many cases the new tests are allowing medical professionals to diagnose the birth problems earlier than before and provide earlier treatment. Time is often an important factor in these situations, and therefore every step that can be taken to provide earlier diagnosis may ultimately save lives.
Along those lines, NJ Spotlight recently discussed a new screening process that is available to test young infants for heart defects. The test, known as pulse oximetry, involves placing a tiny sensor on the toes of young infants measuring oxygen in his blood. The purpose is to detect low levels of oxygen, which indicate a congenital heart disease. These heart problems are a common birth defects, and failure to detect it earlier often results in serious problems for the infant; it can be fatal. These screenings procedures are new, and for the first time they allow medical experts to identify potential problems before the newborn has shown actual signs of the disease. As one involved medical expert explained, “for some of these heart lesions, early intervention is life saving.”
Just last month New Jersey became the first state to mandate this screening. Several children have already been found with heart conditions as a result of the screening, and experts believe they likely would have died had the early test not been performed. Following identification of a problem in these early detects the young victims are often able to have surgery performed to correct the problem. Following New Jersey’s actions, other states have looked at the benefit of mandating the screenings. However, many other states do not screen newborns for heart defects or other recommended blood tests. Financial situations are involved in these screening requirements, and so various states have reached different conclusions about the merits of requiring the test.
The federal government did not have the pulse oximetry on the list of federally recommended newborn screenings before New Jersey officials signed it into law. However, since that time, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary has added the test to the recommended list. At least two other states will implement the recommendations this year, and many others have proposals waiting to do that same. Clearly the more newborns who have this screening, the more lives will ultimately be saved that otherwise would have been lost.
The Chicago birth injury lawyers at our firm applaud the actions taken by those officials who are working to spread the used of this screening and ultimately saving young lives. Through the years of working will local Illinois injury victims we have come to appreciate the immense devastation caused to entire families when young children suffer through medical complications. It is particularly tragic when those problems could have been prevented. It is reasonable for families to demand that everything possible be done to prevent these problems from developing.
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