St Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in the US is performing a test in newborns to detect heart disease that could be made compulsory should New Jersey Governor Chris Christie sign a new law this month.
The test involves putting a bandage-like monitor on the newborn’s foot; it passes red and infrared light waves to a photo detector on the other side of the foot and the levels of light waves recorded helps physicians to determine the amount of oxygen in the blood.
Michael Giuliano, neonatology chief at Joseph M Sanzari Children’s Hospital — which also uses the test — said the it was a simple and inexpensive way to detect heart defects in babies who do not show symptoms.
Newborns are currently tested for a host of different disorders before discharge, including blood tests that detect biochemical imbalances, and a hearing test.
Dr Adel Zauk, neonatalogy chief at St Joseph’s Regional Medical Center told northjersey.com, “It’s a no-brainer. Every baby should have it done. Some heart diseases can be missed without this, and that can cause the baby to go into shock, which can damage organs.”
Some physicians, however, debate how necessary the test is for every infant, with the American Academy of Pediatrics insisting on further studies into the procedure before either endorsing or opposing the law.