A TEST that could save the lives of more babies born with a heart condition is routinely carried out by only two Scottish health boards.

Pulse Oximetry is a simple and painless test that can detect more than 90 per cent of life-threatening heart defects.

However, the test is only carried out on all newborn babies at Forth Valley Hospital in Larbert and Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy. 

Data shows that NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is among the nine health boards that only carry out the test in babies when a problem has already been identified. 

One health board – NHS Borders – said it does not carry out the test at all.

Every year in the UK about 5,000 babies are born with congenital heart disease (CHD).

However, only one-third are detected before birth, meaning babies who have potentially lethal but very treatable conditions leave hospital without being diagnosed. Experts say that up to 100 otherwise healthy infants may be dying every year from undiagnosed CHD.

Anne Keatley-Clarke, chief executive of the Children’s Heart Federation said: “Delays in diagnosis cause distress, physical harm and can be life threatening. 

“So CHF is campaigning for all babies to be tested for heart conditions at birth to help save lives. 

“CHF is also calling for the introduction of Pulse Oximetry testing on all newborn babies. This is a quick, painless and cheap test that measures oxygen levels in blood and detects over 90 per cent of life-threatening heart defects in newborns. 

“It also detects other respiratory problems.”

NHS Forth Valley said: “Within the maternity unit at Forth Valley Royal Hospital, all newborn babies have Pulse Oximetry undertaken as part of the examination of a newborn prior to discharge from hospital. 

“Any baby requiring admission to NNICU will also have this performed as part of routine observations.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The UK National Screening Committee is currently piloting the use of the Pulse Oximetry test, which it is hoped will provide the evidence to support consideration of its inclusion as part of the national screening programme. 

“We will carefully consider the outcomes of this pilot.”