Letter: Simple test can save Louisiana babies

Just two dollars.

According to the American Heart Association, two dollars is the difference between life and death in the case of one out of three infants who die from a birth defect — a heart defect.

Each day parents are welcoming their newborns into the world and taking them home as healthy babies when, in fact, they are not. They are going home with an undiagnosed heart condition that could have been detected for just two dollars.

The American Heart Association is asking Louisiana elected officials to make a change to save lives by extending the screening of newborns to include a pulse oximetry text.

This noninvasive test only takes a few minutes and can detect low oxygen levels in the blood — a significant indicator of heart issues in babies. It’s simple, to administer, involving nothing more than placing a small sensor on the hand or foot. The monitor reading can provide doctors with early warning signs of low oxygen levels in the baby’s bloodstream, which could mean possible heart defects. By detecting heart disease early, health professionals can ensure that treatment can begin immediately and oftentimes before symptoms can become life-threatening.

With such a simple, inexpensive test we can save so many young lives and give babies across Louisiana a chance to fight.

Steven B. Spedale, M.D.

chief of neonatology, Woman’s Hospital

Baton Rouge