LINCOLN — Nebraska lawmakers took a step Friday toward ensuring that all newborns get tested for a hidden killer.
Senators gave first-round approval to a bill that would require babies be screened for critical congenital heart diseases and defects.
State Sen. Jim Smith of Papillion said Legislative Bill 225 would save lives and money.
It was brought to him by Tiffany Mytty-Klein, the Papillion mother of a now-10-year-old boy born with a serious heart defect.
Cole Klein was not diagnosed until, at 53 days old, he suffered congestive heart failure.
If he had been screened as a newborn, his condition could have been found and treated before it threatened his life.
Smith said the test is quick, painless and inexpensive.
It measures the amount of oxygen in the blood using a probe attached to a baby's foot or hand with tape.
No needles or punctures are required.
Low oxygen levels can indicate a problem that might not have shown up on prenatal ultrasounds or in physical examinations after birth.
Doctors caring for newborns would be responsible for ordering the tests in hospitals and other birthing facilities.
For births outside of a hospital, the responsibility for getting the screening would fall on parents.
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