TRENTON, NJ (CBS) – Two members of the New Jersey Assembly are proposing a law that would mandate a simple test to be performed on every newborn in the state to help identify children born with a particular type of congenital heart defect.

And at least one Philadelphia doctor says it’s a great idea.

Dr. Nandini Madan, a pediatric cardiologist at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, says a pulse oximetry test — commonly known as “pulse ox” — is painless, takes only seconds, and would be a tremendous help in diagnosing a hidden ailment.

“Not only would you detect these patients early and possibly save their lives, it’s also known that the longer these patients go undetected, there are injuries to the brain, injuries to other organs,” she told KYW Newsradio.

To conduct the test, an infrared sensor that monitors the oxygen level in the infant’s blood is placed on the baby’s foot with an adhesive strip.  So why isn’t this being done all the time?

“It costs about a dollar per baby, which not much at all, but I think that they don’t want to add to the total expense,” says Dr. Madan.

Even though the procedure is an easy one, there is a bit of training required.  Dr. Madan thinks it will take a legislative mandate like this one to get the ball rolling.

Reported by Michelle Durham, KYW Newsradio 1060.

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