A state law inspired by a San Diego County boy has become a high-potential lifesaving measure for newborns born with heart defects.
The law, which took effect July 1, requires hospitals perform a $3 test on all newborns to screen them for critical congenital heart disease (CCHD).
If Caleb Peltier had received the test, it would have given his parents a warning and the chance to avoid the invasive surgery he underwent at just 16 days old.
The Peltiers knew something was wrong when Caleb wasn’t eating at 3 days old. His mother took him to his pediatrician who urged her to take him the emergency room at Tri City Medical.
“It was horrible, the worst day of my life by far,” Caleb’s father DJ Peltier said.
Several hospitals and specialists later, Caleb underwent heart surgery.
“We were sick. We just prayed every day. We didn’t know what to think we were just so scared,” Caleb’s mother Casey Peltier told NBC 7.
Now 3 years old, Caleb (pictured below) is doing well and living with his family in Vista.
His parents and the March of Dimes wanted to prevent this from happening to other families so they approached State Sen. Marty Block last year and asked him to help.
As a result, California became the ninth and largest state in the nation to require the life-saving test for all newborns.
Clips are attached to an infant’s hand and foot and then to a device that is a little larger than a bedside radio.
“It’s like a band-aid on the baby’s finger and it will measure the baby’s oxygenated blood,” Caleb’s mother explains.
“This test, which is now law, now required of all hospitals, could’ve saved this family so much grief, could’ve save taxpayers so much money that had to be spent and could’ve saved poor Caleb so much pain,” Block said.
Since the law went into effect Block said he knows of two babies – one in Irvine, another at UCLA – that tested positive on the preliminary test.
After more testing they were found to have heart defects and were treated.
“It’s actually, for many babies, an easy correction if you catch it early, that’s the key,” Block said.
According to the American Heart Association, several other states have now enacted similar legislation or are currently screening.
They include Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia.