How to ensure all babies born in Wisconsin are screened for congenital heart defects

One out of every 100 infants born in the United States has a congenital (present at birth) heart defect — a problem that occurred as the baby’s heart was developing during pregnancy. Congenital heart defects are the most commonly occurring birth defect, and the vast majority have no known cause.

Some heart defects are minor and an individual may never exhibit symptoms. Others are critical and require detection and intervention within the first days of life. Current methods for detecting congenital heart defects include prenatal ultrasound and clinical examination of the newborn. However, these screenings alone are not sufficient to diagnose all congenital heart defects.

Proposed pulse oximetry legislation in Wisconsin

Senator Jerry Petrowski (R—Marathon) and Representative Joel Kleefisch (R—Oconomowoc) introduced Senate Bill 104 and Assembly Bill 111, legislation to ensure all babies born in Wisconsin are screened for congenital heart defects prior to hospital discharge.

Evidence indicates that performing a pulse oximetry screening on newborns would help prevent babies with unrecognized critical congenital heart defect from going home, only to have serious complications and require emergency care soon after.

I invite you to learn why Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin supports this legislation, along with the American Heart Association, Mended Little Hearts, March of Dimes, UW Health American Family Children’s Hospital, Marshfield Clinic, the Wisconsin Chapter of the American College of Cardiology, the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Wisconsin Nurses Association.

How to show your support and get involved

The American Heart Association, along with Mended Little Hearts Milwaukee, will hold a family event in Wauwatosa on Oct. 22, 4:30-7:00 p.m. to gather supporters of the pulse oximetry screening legislation, update them on the status of the bill and educate them on ways they can get involved. Learn more about this event.

Stuart Berger, MD- Stuart Berger, MD; medical director of Herma Heart Center at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin; professor and chief of Pediatric Cardiology at the Medical College of Wisconsin; and medical director of Project ADAM

Herma Heart Center at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin is one of the nation’s top programs for medical and surgical treatment of congenital heart defects and heart disease in children.

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