State Legislature Agrees To Mandate For Newborn Test

The General Assembly has agreed all North Carolina hospitals should be required to assess newborns for heart defects using an inexpensive test.

The bill approved Wednesday would mandate hospitals to administer a test that calculates oxygen amounts in the blood of an infant before the child is discharged. The measure involving "pulse oximetry" tests now goes to Gov. Pat McCrory's desk.

The test is already used in many large hospitals, 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 a congenital heart disorder.

The House unanimously gave final approval Wednesday to the Senate bill.