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Our Opinion: Laws promote health, welfare of children

In partnership with parents, government has an important role to play in promoting the health and welfare of Missouri’s most vulnerable residents, its children.

We commend state lawmakers for passing and Gov. Jay Nixon for signing three measures to protect children.

One would require infants to be screened, beginning in 2014, for a congenital heart disease.

The American Heart Association lauded the action and described the pulse oximetry screening as “non-invasive, inexpensive and highly effective.” The Heart Association said research indicates the screening could help identify more than 90 percent of heart defects.

The measure is named Chloe’s Law after a girl born in 2008 with a heart defect discovered by the screening nine hours after her birth.

A second measure increases the time — from the current five days to 45 days — parents may relinquish their babies, without repercussions, to designated professionals. Qualified recipients include professionals in medicine, law enforcement, firefighters, pregnancy resource centers and maternity homes.

Quality parent-child relationships are preferable, but not always possible. If and when a parent decides to give up a child, the new law will extend and promote a safe transition for the infant.

Finally, a third law tightens guidelines for reporting child abuse. The measure eliminates circuitous child abuse reporting and, instead, requires reports to be made directly to the state’s Children’s Division.

The change was among recommendations made earlier this year by a Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children.

We welcome these new laws designed to improve and advance protections for Missouri’s children.

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