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Central Arkansas Mom Encourages Important Test for Newborns

Mom says test saved daughter's life.
She could have died at home, and we would have never known anything was wrong with her.
LITTLE ROCK, AR -- A Central Arkansas mother wants to remind expecting parents about an important test that saved her baby's life. The test is called a pulse oximetry screening.

Organizations like the March of Dimes and the American Heart Association say the screening is low-cost and non-invasive.

Mary Frances Dooley's daughter is now healthy. But hours after being born, doctors at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences found a problem.

"She was diagnosed with pneumonia and pulmonary hypertension," Dooley said.

Dooley, a nurse, says a pulse oximetry screening caught the problem. The test usually detects critical congenital heart disease, but also catches other illnesses.

"No one thought she looked sick," Dooley said. "So it was surprising for everybody when they put the pulse ox on and she was in fact not doing what she needed to be doing."

Her daughter, Annabelle, spent 14 days in the neonatal intensive care unit.

"She could have died at home, and we would have never known anything was wrong with her," Dooley said.

In March, Arkansas lawmakers passed a measure requiring all hospitals to complete the screening before a newborn is sent home.

Rep. Kim Hammer sponsored the legislation to require the test be completed.

Portions of the law went into effect in August, but full implementation won't happen until the Spring.

So in the meantime, medical professionals advise expecting parents to make sure you get a screening before leaving the hospital.

"It's an excellent screening tool," said Dr. Whit Hall.

He adds catching the problem quickly is crucial.

"It is very important babies get early treatment for this, otherwise the outcome could be disastrous, when they don't have to be," Hall said.

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