Mid-Missouri hospitals screen newborns for heart defects

Three major mid-Missouri hospitals say they already check newborns' blood oxygen levels.

NEW BLOOMFIELD - Three major hospitals in central Missouri told KRCG Wednesday they already perform the blood tests mandated under a new law Gov. Jay Nixon signed on Tuesday.

The new law, called Chloe's Law, would require all hospitals in the state to check newborns' blood oxygen levels. The American Heart Association said the test involves placing sensors on an infant's hand and foot. If a baby's blood oxygen levels are too low, further tests can determine if there is a heart defect. The association says such tests can find 90 percent of all congenital heart defects.

University of Missouri Health Care said its hospital has performed the test at no cost to patients for about two years. Carol Pettigrew, Capital Region Medical Center's obstetrics unit manager, said her staff has performed the test for several months. While so far every baby has had healthy blood oxygen levels, she said she expects the procedure will pick up a heart defect at some point. St. Mary's Medical Center said it also screens all infants prior to release.

The American Heart Association said other states including New Jersey, Indiana and West Virginia have passed similar laws.