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Public Statements

Gov. Beshear Signs Bill to Increase Screenings for Infant Heart Defects

Press Release

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Location: Louisville, KY

Governor Steve Beshear held a ceremonial signing of Senate Bill 125 today at Kosair Children's Hospital. The measure aims to improve maternal and child health in Kentucky by mandating screening of newborns for Critical Congenital Heart Disease (CCHD).

"Every baby deserves a healthy start to life," said Gov. Steve Beshear. "Early testing for metabolic or genetic disorders means early diagnosis and treatment. This measure builds on the success of our newborn screening expansion, and is a great step forward for the health of Kentucky's infants."

The new law, which was sought by the American Heart Association and the Kentucky Department for Public Health, requires mandatory screening of newborns for CCHD, which is recommended for all newborns by the American College of Medical Genetics.

"Critical Congenital Heart Disease is a life-threatening condition, which requires treatment within the first year of life. Many times the condition is not detected at birth and the results can be devastating," said Tonya Chang, Director of Government Relations with the American Heart Association. "Ensuring that all newborns are screened will result in early detection and the opportunity for treatment. Today, with the stroke of a pen, Governor Beshear, Senator Dennis Parrett and the other members of the Kentucky General Assembly become lifesavers."

Screening for these defects is simple, low-cost and non-invasive. Approximately two-thirds of Kentucky's birthing hospitals currently use pulse oximetry, the method used for screening of heart defects, in their nurseries.

"By streamlining newborn screenings, this legislation improves the state's ability to intervene early and improve newborn health," said Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Audrey Tayse Haynes. "This is a win for Kentucky's mothers and babies."

"I am glad to see this legislation become law because it will save lives -- the lives of babies," said Sen. Dennis L. Parrett, sponsor of Senate Bill 125. "Critical Congenital Heart Disease is the most common birth defect in the U.S. and the leading cause of birth-defected related deaths. If it is caught in time, there is a survival rate of about 85 percent. Those are good odds."


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