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Pulse oximetry (or pulse ox) is one of the routine screening tests that your baby may get. It measures oxygen levels in the blood with a small device wrapped around the hand and foot. It's done to check for serious heart problems (congenital heart defects), and breathing or lung problems. Experts recommend it for most babies.
The pulse oximetry test can show doctors if your baby might have a breathing or heart problem. It is a screening test. Screening tests help your doctor look for a certain disease or condition before any symptoms appear. This test checks for lung or heart problems that lower the oxygen level in your baby's blood. Heart problems are called congenital heart defects. If a baby is born with a lung or heart problem, it's best if doctors know about it right away. If the problem is serious, your child may need to be treated quickly.
In general, there's nothing you have to do before this test, unless your doctor tells you to.
A small, soft sensor will be wrapped around your baby's hand and foot. It's connected to a machine. The machine reads oxygen levels in the blood. Nursery staff will do the test and record the results. You can stay with your baby. If you have questions, ask the staff or doctor.
The test takes just a few minutes. If the results show that there might be a problem, the nursery staff may do the test again a little later.
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. Ask your doctor when you can expect to have your child's test results.
Adaptation Date: 5/16/2023
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services
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