Bill to save newborns from heart disease inspired by local family

AB 1731 passed into law over the weekend

SAN DIEGO - A local family inspired a bill that could help save the lives of newborn babies in California.

This weekend, Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 1731, a law that requires newborns to go through a simple non-invasive test to screen for critical congestive heart disease.

Caleb Peltier's parents know all too well the problem that critical congestive heart disease (CCHD) can present for families. His parents, Casey and DJ, noticed something was wrong with him three days after he was born. Caleb was then rushed to Tri-City Medical Center and soon discovered the life-threatening disease.

"He started breathing unusually and his eating was off … we knew something was up," Casey Peltier said.

It turns out he suffered from CCHD. He has already undergone two surgeries in his young life.

A test, known as the pulse oximetry screening, could have helped him. Casey Peltier said it would not have prevented his heart problems, but it would have caught it right away and helped him cope with it.

Casey Peltier said it would have alerted doctors "something was going on with his heart," adding that it is non-invasive.

The screening tests oxygen levels in the blood. Assemblyman Marty Block (D-San Diego) said the upfront costs for the hospitals are less than $4 per test.

Thirty newborns die from CCHD every year in California.

Caleb, who turns two on Tuesday, gets to celebrate his birthday knowing his tough ordeal will help save the lives of others.

Block authored the bill, and it was co-sponsored by the March of Dimes and the American Heart Association.

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