The Importance of Newborn Pulse Oximeters


Why are pulse oximeters important for birthing professionals to have? When a new baby is born, it has become standard procedure to check for a handful of very specific medical conditions, one of which is critical congenital heart defect (CCHD). According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): "About 1 in every 4 babies born with a heart defect has a critical congenital heart defect (critical CHD, also known as critical congenital heart disease)"1. If not diagnosed soon after birth, "babies with a critical congenital heart defect (CCHD) are at significant risk of disability or death if their condition is not diagnosed soon after birth."2 Enter...the pulse oximeter.

Pulse oximetry is a procedure that uses a non-invasive unit - a pulse oximeter - to measure blood oxygen saturation. In certain instances, a pulse oximeter can identify infants with CCHD before they actually exhibit signs of the condition3. But getting a newborn's reading is not as easy as one might think. With their small, flexible fingers and toes, using a traditional pulse oximeter with a finger probe is not only difficult, it's inefficient. The best option is to use a motion sensitive pulse oximeter with a sensor that can be wrapped around the baby's foot or hand.


The Masimo Rad-5 Pulse Oximeter System is one of the best pulse oximeters on the market for newborn readings because of its unique motion sensitive design. At Cascade HealthCare Products, we started carrying the Rad-5 at the request of our midwives who found it too difficult to get an accurate reading with a regular pulse oximeter. The Rad-5 is specially designed to be motion tolerant for newborns and offers a range of sizes for sensor wraps that fit neonates, infants, children and adults. This system has also been scientifically and clinically proven to offer accurate measurements during motion and low perfusion4.

The Masimo Rad-5 Pulse Oximeter also comes with a reusable sensor, which is far more cost effective than disposable sensors because all you need to purchase are the wraps. Our test group of midwives in Wisconsin even discovered that they could craft their own wraps from cloth, which they found to be equally as effective with the reusable sensors. The Rad-5 is also handy for situations where protocol calls for one-time-use sensors. Simply remove the reusable sensor and insert the sterile disposable sensor for fast and easy readings.

EASY AS 1, 2, 3

Here is a simple guide for how the Rad-5 Pulse Oximeter works, for hands on the left and feet on the right.


If you enjoyed this post, the topics covered in the following blog posts may also be of interest to you: 'Why Do We Use Fetoscopes?', 'How to Choose the Right Doppler', and 'Entering the New Age of Midwifery'. Click the post title to view the full article, or scroll through our complete archive of posts by clicking here.

Written By: Samantha Darling for Cascade HealthCare Products



1Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Congenital Heart Defects (CHDs):

2,3Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Newborn Screening:

4Pulse Oximeters, Cascade HealthCare Products Inc.