UIHC administering routine heart screening for newborns - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UIHC administering routine heart screening for newborns


Karla and Justin Buchholz of Waterloo are experiencing all the emotions that come with the birth of their first child.

"Overwhelming and wonderful feeling.  I can't even explain it," Karla said.

They are also taking comfort in knowing that baby Peyton is free of any serious heart defects, thanks to a heart test that is about to become a lot more common.

Every year, close to five thousand babies born the United States have a critical congenital heart defect, that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While extremely rare, hospitals are taking increased measures to spot these defects early.

"The screening will pick up the heart disease before it would have otherwise been caught," said Dr. Ben Reinking, pediatric cardiologist at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

Reinking says early detection of structural heart problems is crucial.

"Our ability to intervene and have a good result is much better if we pick it up before the kids our sick."

The bedside test- called pulse oximetry screening- places sensors on the baby's skin 24-48 hours after birth and measures the amount of oxygen in the baby's blood and his pulse rate in just a matter of minutes.

The painless test is non-invasive. Traditionally it was used only for sick babies. New research indicates these tests are working and turning out low percentages of false positives.

It's the reasons why UIHC will make pulse oximetry part of the routine screening that every baby goes through.

"There are other states and institutions that have trialed this and it turns out it's pretty effective at detecting these lesions we're looking for," Reinking said.

It's peace of mind for the Buchholz's, who wouldn't mind seeing this test more common in hospitals across Iowa.

"It wasn't something invasive so I think it's definitely something that should be added," Karla said.

UIHC is the first in the state to administer this screening as routine. A state committee is currently considering recommending this practice for all birth centers in Iowa.

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