New law mandates all newborns be tested for congenital heart defects

Published: Aug. 7, 2013 at 11:35 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 17, 2013 at 11:35 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Gov. Nikki Haley took a visit to the Upstate on Wednesday to sign a bill that impact's the state's youngest citizens.

It takes just a few moments, and costs less than $3. Now it's officially a law in South Carolina. All newborns must be given a simple test to detect congenital heart defects before they're sent home.

This bill was inspired by the loss 76-day-old Emerson Rose and her parents who lobbied lawmakers to make a pulse oximetry test mandatory for all infants in South Carolina.

"We are grateful her name is attached to something that is going to save babies lives just like her and prevent other families from going through the same thing we've gone through," said Emerson's father, Jason Smith.

"This legislation will never know the individuals whose lives have been saved," said state Sen. Thomas Alexander. "But there will be individuals who will have the opportunity to have a healthy normal life because of this early detection."

The test measures the amount of oxygen in the blood, which can help determine if a child's heart and lungs are working at full capacity.

According to the American Heart Association, congenital heart defects account for 24 percent of all infant deaths. South Carolina now joins dozens of other states that have made testing mandatory.

Nationwide, approximately 4,700 babies are born with some type of congenital heart defect.

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