Heart Defect Test Mandate Approved By NC House

An inexpensive test to determine whether a newborn may have a heart defect is closer to being required in all North Carolina hospitals.

The House gave its final approval Monday night to legislation that would mandate hospitals administer a test that calculates oxygen amounts in the blood of an infant before the child is discharged.

Physician Rep. Jim Fulghum of Raleigh says the "pulse oximetry" test is already used in many large hospitals. The test costs about $5 and can be done with a tape across the baby's forehead. Supporters say the requirement will save lives by catching problems early.

The American Heart Association says nine of every 1,000 babies are born with congenital heart disorder.

The measure received unanimous approval and now goes to the Senate.