The American Heart Association is advocating for a simple test for all newborns that could detect heart defects earlier.

The pulse oximetry screening is simple: A pulse oximeter probe goes around the baby’s foot and hand to measure the amount of oxygen in the baby’s blood. A low reading doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a heart problem, but it can signal that more tests are needed.

Heart defects are the No. 1 birth defect, affecting 1 in 100 births. Unfortunately, the defects may not be detected for months, years or even until adulthood. The American Heart Association wants pulse oximetry to be a standard practice for all hospitals across the country.

In Oklahoma, the American Heart Association is working with Rep. Dan Kirby of Broken Arrow to introduce a bill that would make heart screenings mandatory for all newborns.

“We are so appreciative of Rep. Kirby for joining the fight against heart disease,” said Marilyn Davidson of the American Heart Association. “Too many babies are leaving the hospital with a heart defect and aren’t getting the proper treatment. This bill could affect the lives of hundreds of babies every single year.”

The public can join the American Heart Association by taking action online at