baby hearing testHouse Bill 2491 has been in the media and became a law with the Governor’s signature.  The new law requires us to add critical congenital heart defect (CCHD) to our newborn screening program protocol.  This new screening and reporting requirement will kick in once our rulemaking is complete- probably this Fall.

The screening test we’ll be adding is a pulse-ox test that happens in the hospital.  A device that measures oxygen levels in the blood is placed on the right hand and foot of a newborn to measure oxygen levels.  A Iow oxygen reading can be a sign that the baby might have a heart problem.  Most hospitals are already doing the screening, but our new rules will make the screening requirement explicit…  helping us close the information loop with doctors to ensure they have the information they need to do appropriate and timely medical management.

The new law also requires us to take a look at adding severe combined immunodeficiency disorder (SCID) and Krabbe disease to our screening panel.  These screens would require some new equipment and perhaps some increased costs, so we’ll be doing a full cost-benefit analysis with stakeholder input moving forward before making any decisions.

The new law also creates an advisory committee (that we’ll chair) to look at immunizations.  The advisory committee will look at the current system and make recommendations on improving Arizona’s system for making sure all kids have access to life-saving immunizations while keeping costs reasonable for everyone.