Ring Gives It Another Go At Getting Newborns Screened For Heart Disease

Feb 6, 2013

A Florida lawmaker is hoping to expand newborn screenings to include testing for congenital heart disease. A bill that would do so passed in the Senate Health Policy Committee Wednesday.

All babies born in the U.S. are checked for certain medical conditions after birth. In Florida, newborns are screened for more than 30 conditions. But Democratic Senator Jeremy Ring says there’s an important one that’s not on the list, which is why he filed a bill to include it.

“We don’t always screen for congenital heart conditions, and using a pulse Oximetry screening, we do currently screen for 36 current conditions at birth, we’re just adding congenital heart,” said Ring.

Ring says an added benefit is it costs very little to run the important test. The issue is literally near and dear to Senator Ring’s heart, since he was born with a hole in his heart. After he was checked annually, he says his condition later exposed a more serious problem with his heart. 

Ring's bill (SB 124) cleared its first Committee hearing Wednesday, and has three more stops before it heads to the Senate Floor. Ring attempted to get the bill through the Legislature last year, but it died in Committee hearings.

Currently, testing of congenital heart disease in newborns is required in seven states in the U.S.  According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human services, congenital heart disease is the number one killer of babies born with birth defects.

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