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Newborn Screening Saves Lives: The What & Why

  • During my pregnancy with Lucas, I joined Twitter, started following like-minded mamas, and “met” Kristine of Cora’s Story. She had a rather uneventful pregnancy and gave birth to a beautiful baby girl just a couple of months before my due date. Her name was Cora and she was perfect. Then, the unthinkable happened. Sweet baby Cora died in her mama’s arms while breastfeeding just five days after coming into this world. I sobbed and sobbed while reading the details surrounding her last breath. I was completely devastated for this mama, whom I never met. Cora passed away from a Congenitial Heart Defect (CHD) that could have been detected through newborn screening.

    No mother should ever have to go through what Kristine did, which is why she and Cora now save lives. Through tragedy and heartache, Kristine became one of the biggest advocates for pulse oximetry testing, a type of newborn screening. CHD is the most common of birth defects, affecting 1 in 100 births, that can be detected through pulse ox testing. Through her advocacy, Kristine, with Cora, have touched thousands of people, pushed for legislation to make newborn pulse ox testing routine, and have saved lives.

    During my pregnancy with Lucas, I joined Twitter, started following like-minded mamas, and “met” Kristine of Cora’s Story. She had a rather uneventful pregnancy and gave birth to a beautiful baby girl just a couple of months before my due date. Her name was Cora and she was perfect. Then, the unthinkable happened. Sweet baby Cora died in her mama’s arms while breastfeeding just five days after coming into this world. I sobbed and sobbed while reading the details surrounding her last breath. I was completely devastated for this mama, whom I never met. Cora passed away from a Congenitial Heart Defect (CHD) that could have been detected through newborn screening.

    No mother should ever have to go through what Kristine did, which is why she and Cora now save lives. Through tragedy and heartache, Kristine became one of the biggest advocates for pulse oximetry testing, a type of newborn screening. CHD is the most common of birth defects, affecting 1 in 100 births, that can be detected through pulse ox testing. Through her advocacy, Kristine, with Cora, have touched thousands of people, pushed for legislation to make newborn pulse ox testing routine, and have saved lives.

    Kristine continues to save lives and has recently partnered with Baby’s First Test to advocate and educate parents on the importance of newborn screening. Baby’s First Test is the nations newborn screening center for families and providers.

    What is newborn screening?

    Newborn screening is performed soon after the birth of your baby, and in most cases, while you are still in the hospital. Each year, over 5,000 babies are born with one of the conditions included in state newborn screening panels. Most of these infants appear perfectly healthy at birth and come from families with no history of the disorder. The types of newborn screenings include: a heel prick (blood sample, newborn hearing screening, and heart screen (pulse ox). Around one in every 500-700 newborns has a condition that can be detected throughnewborn screening.

    Blood Test (Heel Stick):

    Babies can be screened for a variety of conditions through a blood test/heel stick. During the procedure, a sample of baby’s blood is collected from it’s heel then sent to a state lab for testing. To find out what conditions are included in your state’s newborn screening program visit this page.

    Hearing Test:

    Two different tests can be used to screen for hearing loss in babies. Both tests are quick (5-10 minutes), safe and comfortable with no activity required from your baby. These tests are often performed while baby is asleep. One or both tests may be used.

    Pulse Oximetry Testing:

    Pulse oximetry is a non-invasive test that measures how much oxygen is in the blood. Infants with heart problems may have low blood oxygen levels, and therefore, the pulse ox test can help identify babies that may have CHD. The test is done using a machine called a pulse oximeter, using a painless sensor placed on the baby’s skin. The pulse ox test only takes a couple of minutes and is performed after the baby is 24 hours old and before he or she leaves the newborn nursery.

    Why newborn screening?

    Most babies are born healthy. However, some infants have a serious medical condition even though they look and act like all newborns. Newborn screening allows health professionals to identify and treat certain conditions before they make a baby sick. Most babies with conditions that are identified at birth and treated early are able to grow up healthy with normal development.

    Get involved:

    Talk to the expecting women in your life about newborn screening, Cora’s Story and Baby’s First Test. A simple conversation could save a baby’s life. You can also show your support by “liking”  Baby’s First Test and Cora’s Story on Facebook!

    I will be sharing my experience with newborn screening soon so stay tuned!


    You can follow all of Mama B's adventures at http://mamabblog.com/


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