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Tenn. newborns to receive heart defect screening

4:30 PM, Dec 26, 2012   |    comments
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Starting Tuesday, newborn babies in Tennessee will be screened for congenital heart defects with a device called a pulse oximeter.

Although few newborns in Tennessee have heart defects, they can be fatal if not treated.

Dr. Stuart Shapira is a pediatrician at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She told WPLN-FM the pulse oximeter is a painless way to measure the amount of oxygen in a baby's blood.

Tennessee's new law mandating the test is based on recommendations from federal health officials and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Many Tennessee hospitals already perform the test, but until now it has not been required.

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