Heart advocates push for Mo. law that would screen newborns for heart defects

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Heart defects are the most common birth defects. Almost one out of 100 babies is born with one.

Heart advocates are pushing for a law in Missouri that would require every newborn to be screened with a pulse oximetry test before leaving the hospital. The federal government recommends it for all newborns. The screening involves placing a small wrap around a finger to measure blood oxygen levels. Low levels can be a possible sign of a heart defect.

Dr. Bill Drake, a cardiologist at Children’s Mercy Hospital, says the law has the potential to save 20 babies a year in Missouri.

FOX 4 Medical Reporter Meryl Lin McKean talked with Dr. Drake and a family whose daughter survived being born with only half a heart.

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