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Saturday, December 25, 2010

They'll be godmothers to thousands: Pulse oximetry for newborns

On Oct. 13, Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, sent a letter formally recommending that hospitals perform pulse oximetry screening of newborn babies. This followed the formal recommendation of the Secretary's Advisory Committee for Hereditable Disorders in Newborns and Children, which had met a month earlier. Pulse oximetry is performed via a painless clip (imagine a soft clothespin) on the baby's foot, to measure the oxygen in their blood.

Sebelius' recommendation was made on the ninth anniversary of the death of Mary Ellen Mannix’s son, James. Mary Ellen has become an influential patient advocate since then, and participates on the advisory board of the (newly born) Newborn Coalition.

The Newborn Coalition and the mission to get pulse oximetry as a recommendation on the SACHDNC were spearheaded by Annamarie Sarinaan. Annamarie's daughter, born with a heart defect, got good, error-free care, and survives.

Bravo to Annamarie and Mary Ellen, who will soon become virtual godmothers to the babies who will be healthier as a result of their work!

Advice: Forward this to your friends who are expecting a baby, and have them send this to their obstetricians.

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