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Utah hospitals in the past two years started screening newborn babies for critical congenital heart disease (CCHD), but as of Oct. 1, such screenings are required by law.

The Legislature passed HB 276 in 2013, sponsored by Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, to require the screenings, which entail placing a soft probe on the infant's hand and foot to sense oxygen saturation, according to a Utah Department of Health news release.

"This simple, non-invasive screening can save lives," said Harper Randall, medical director over the newborn screening programs at the Utah Department, the release said.

Each year in Utah, an estimated 64 babies are born with CCHD, which include a number of heart conditions that can go undiagnosed in newborns. The heart conditions can lead to serious medical problems or even death if not detected early.

When the health department and the University of Utah began a pilot project for CCHD screenings two years ago, most Utah birthing centers were not screening for the disease, the release said. Now, however, most do screen newborns.

More information is available at or the Utah CCHD Screening Project office at 1-866-818-7096.

— Kristen Moulton