Simple heart test to help save newborn babies’ lives


Bromsgrove StandardThe front page of today’s Bromsgrove Standard features the important story of one of my younger constituents, Sam from Rednal, now aged four.

Sam was born with an undiagnosed heart condition. Fortunately he received a pulse oximetry test when he was born, which was being trialled at Birmingham Women’s Hospital at the time. The test picked up his heart condition and three days later he underwent surgery.

Sam’s mother, Michelle, contacted me a couple of months ago to raise this issue and tell me about the Children’s Heart Federation’s campaign for the introduction of pulse oximetry screening for all newborn babies in the UK. I raised this on her behalf with the Health Secretary and have been happy to give my backing to the campaign.

Michelle deserves a great deal of credit for her work supporting this campaign – including making today’s front page!

The test, already used in a number of hospitals, is non-invasive, takes just a few minutes and can be done along-side existing newborn checks. Including it in these tests for newborn babies as part of their screening after birth would help detect undiagnosed heart conditions and give all parents greater peace of mind.

Every newborn baby deserves the same chance as Sam to receive the treatment they need as quickly as possible.

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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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