State Rep. Richard Smith (R-108) yesterday thanked his legislative colleagues for unanimously passing a bill that will help save the lives of newborn babies.
Rep. Smith co-sponsored and was one of the leading legislative advocates for SB 56 – An Act Concerning Pulse Oximetry Screening for Newborn Infants. The bill requires hospitals to perform a simple and low cost test on all newborn babies in order to determine if they are suffering from congenital heart defects. Discovering the defects early facilitates more timely and effective treatment, and in some cases will save lives.
The test works by evaluating oxygenation levels in the newborns’ blood through an external sensing device. If the Pulse Oximetry reading shows a low oxygen level, it signals to further test the newborn to determine whether a congenital heart defect is the cause. While heart defects take many forms, the common denominator is diminished oxygenation of the infant’s vital organs.
“The Pulse Oximetry Screening is simple, non-invasive, cost effective and has the ability to save tiny lives. Early detection is vital because misdiagnosed or undiagnosed defects yield dire consequences. This bill will help every baby born in Connecticut have a healthier future. I thank my House colleagues for their support for this important and worthwhile matter.” Rep. Smith said.
Rep. Smith added, “I applaud my Senate colleagues for their prior passage of this bill, and I now urge Governor Malloy to sign it into law.”
To watch Rep. Smith speak in favor of SB 56, please click here.
Earlier this month Rep. Smith visited New Fairfield’s Consolidated School to visit 40 first and second graders who formed the “Kids Care Club.” Club members volunteer to stuff heart-shaped pillows for children living with congenital heart defects. The pillows are given to the patients of the pediatric cardiology department of the Children’s Health Center at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital.
SB 56 was prompted in part by Rep. Smith’s constituent Marie Hatcher of Sherman whose son, Matthew, is one of the 35,000 babies born every year with a congenital heart defect. Hatcher founded Matthew’s Heart of Hope, Inc., a nonprofit organization that raises money and awareness for pediatric congenital heart defects.
Congenital heart defects are structural abnormalities of the heart that are present at birth, and range in severity from holes between the chambers of the heart to the complete absence of a valve or chamber (Source: American Heart Association).