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Pulse oximetry (also called pulse ox) is a test that measures oxygen levels in the blood. It checks for serious heart problems (congenital heart defects), and breathing or lung problems.
It's done with a small device wrapped around the hand and foot. The test doesn't cause pain.
Experts recommend the test for most babies as part of a group of routine newborn screening tests. It's most often done about 24 to 48 hours after birth, or before you leave the hospital.
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 heart or lung problem, it's best if doctors know about it right away. If the problem is serious, your child may need to be treated quickly.
You don't need to do anything to prepare for the screening test.
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 call line if your child is having problems. Ask your doctor when you can expect to have your child's test results.
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Adaptation Date: 5/19/2020
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services
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