New test for heart defects

SAN JOSE, CA (KNTV/NBC) - A new screening test is helping newborns get a healthy start in life.

Selena Garcia had to part with her first child, Jesus, while nurses performed the test. They placed a tiny cup on his right hand and one on his foot to measure his oxygen level.

It was a simple test with potentially lifesaving results.

"We found that approximately - in every 2,000 babies - that we found one of the babies tested positive for the disease that we wouldn't have found otherwise," said Dr. Balaji Govindaswami, a prenatal specialist.

The test is performed on babies like Jesus who are just 24 hours old. It allows doctors to detect structural defects in the heart long before the infant shows symptoms and while the problem can be surgically corrected.

The high-tech test is surprisingly low-cost.

"It costs about $3 a baby, and we find that to be a negligible cost compared to the cost of ultrasounds or a baby getting sick," Govindaswami said.

The screening has been so successful, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services just recommended the test be added to the universal screening panel for all newborns in the nation.

The numbers indicate Jesus has a strong and healthy heart. His mom is happy she can learn this so quickly.

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