Governor Scott Walker signs newborn birth defect screening bill

MADISON – Governor Scott Walker signed a bill last week that would require all newborn babies in Wisconsin to be tested for the number one killer of infants with birth defects; critical congenital heart disease.

According to Gov. Walker, this simple life saving test only costs about $4.

The bill was signed during a ceremony held at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and Gov. Walker was showed holding a 2 and a half week old baby while a demonstration of oxygen saturation monitoring was given.

According to a 2010 study, nine newborns in Wisconsin died at home or in the emergency room over a five-year period because their critical congenital heart disease went undetected.

Roughly 1 in 4,800 babies born in the United States are affected by this condition.

By itself, the new law won’t mandate the quick test, but rather it would allow the state’s Department of Health Services to begin writing rules requiring that hospitals carry out the test as part of the newborn screening program.

The current law lets the department approve tests that involve blood or urine but not other tests.

This test will use a powerful light emitted through the skin to measure the oxygen levels in the blood. Low levels often signal heart defects.

Wisconsin already requires a blood test that involves screening for 44 potentially deadly conditions, many of which emerge in the first few days of life.