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Wednesday, June 6, 2012 - 9:09am

Testing For Congenital Defects

Georgia hospitals may be required to test all newborns for congenital heart defects.

A Covington woman is pushing state legislation for screenings using a pulse oximeter. The painless, one-minute test requires doctors to place a small device on a baby's toe or finger to check blood oxygen levels and heart rates. Jessica Hatcher's 3-year-old son Wyatt was born with a congenital heart defect that required a heart transplant. Hatcher says without the test, his condition may have gone unnoticed.

The Georgia Department of Public Health will study whether pulse ox screening should be a standard test for newborns. Officials will look at the benefits, cost and implementation associated with testing. If approved, it would mean insurance companies would have to pay about $4 per child.