LAYFAYETTE, Colo. -- A simple health screening that will soon be required for all newborns in Colorado could help save lives.
It is called a pulse oximetry screening. It uses a painless sensor to measure the amount of oxygen in the blood. Low oxygen levels could indicate serious health problems.
Most states screen newborns 24 hours after birth. Colorado is not one of them, but soon it will be.
"It's simple and it's going to save lives," Jamaca Berman tells FOX31.
Berman's four-month-old daughter, Ava, was born with a coarctation of the aorta, which cuts off blood flow to her body. The CDC estimates one in 2,500 babies in the U.S. are born with the condition each year. If it is not detected early, it can be deadly.
"We would have gone home from the hospital and the next thing to happen she'd be blue," says Berman.
Luckily for Ava, that did not happen. Doctors at Good Samaritan Medical Center in Lafayette performed the pulse oximetry screening on her, which detected a problem. An echocardiogram confirmed the results.
At just four days old, Ava underwent heart surgery to correct her pinched aorta. She will lead a full, healthy life. Her parents say none of it would have been possible without the oxygen screening.
"It's a painless test. It takes less than 2 minutes to do and it's easy," explains Kristin Newell, a registered nurse at Children's Hospital in Broomfield, "And it could catch some sick kids that wouldn't otherwise be caught until later."
Colorado lawmakers passed a bill in 2015 that will require Colorado hospitals to test all newborns below 7000 feet beginning in January 2016. The test is not as accurate above 7000 feet. Doctors at altitude can perform blood tests to determine oxygen levels instead. More research is being done to determine if the simple screening could eventually be used in higher altitudes.