New law could help save lives of Texas babies

A new law requires all Texas newborns to get pulse ox screenings before leaving the hospital or birthing center (credit/Amanda Brandeis).

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A new law set to take effect on Thursday, could help save the lives of babies across Texas. It will require Texas newborns to get pulse ox screenings before leaving the hospital or birthing center.

“The way our hearts form in the womb is miraculous,” says Dr. John Loyd, a neonatologist at Seton. But he says when the folds and shifts don’t go right, you can have the heart malformed. “The test is designed to find  the 2 to 3 percent of babies with congenital heart disease.”

Nurses place the pulse Opimeters on a baby’s hand and foot, testing the oxygen levels. If levels are too low, doctors can conduct additional testing to discover heart defects, that might have otherwise gone undetected.

One mother wanted to make sure all Texas babies got the life-saving screening, so she went to the Texas State Capitol to get it done.

“In the State of Texas, previously, children were only screened for congenital heart defects if they had a mom or dad who also had congenital heart defects,” says Suzie Chase Brown. “In fact, if a child wasn’t blue, then a doctor would say they looked healthy.”

Suzy and her daughter Maggie are both survivors of congenital heart defects.

“I had lifesaving open heart surgery 40 years ago, and Maggie had life saving open heart surgery 4 years ago,” said Suzie.

“I had an atrial septal defect and mitral valve cleft,” Maggie says. She’s now 6 1/2-years-old.

After Suzy testified at the Capitol, lawmakers passed a bill requiring pulse ox screenings for all Texas newborns.

“Every child will have chance at living better healthy life,” says Suzy.

The new law goes into effect on August 7, however, some hospitals like Seton already require the tests. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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