Pulse Oximetry Screening

What you can expect

The process of pulse oximetry screening in babies takes approximately one to five minutes and involves the following:

  1. The pulse oximeter has a lighted probe that is temporarily attached to your baby’s finger, ear lobe, or foot.
  2. Once your baby’s finger is attached to the probe (usually by a sticker), the red light of the probe reads the amount of oxygen carried by the blood.
  3. The oxygen level is tested in both arms and both feet. In some kinds of congenital heart disease (CHD), the numbers can be lower than normal or different in the arms compared to the legs. It also helps to validate the test to do it in all of the extremities.


There are no known risks associated with pulse oximetry testing. This is not a blood test, so it doesn’t require a needle stick. There’s also no radiation involved with this test; it simply temporarily shines a light through the skin to test how much of the blood contains oxygen.