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The Coaliton urges Quebec to create a universal program that would benefit all babies no matter where they are born

The Québec Coaliton for Newborn Hearing Screening congratulates the CHU Ste-Justine and the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC). Both are launching newborn hearing-screening programs.

"This is terrific news for babies born and treated at Ste-Justine's and born at the MUHC's Royal Victoria Hospital and treated at the MUHC's Montreal Children's Hospital," says Dr. Hema Patel, co-chair of the Coalition and a pediatrician at The Montreal Children's Hospital.

"However, the Coalition continues to urge the Quebec Minister of Health and Social Services to launch a universal program so that all Quebec newborns can benefit from a screening program. Right now, these major health centers are able to provide this service, thanks to the generosity of their foundations and donors. But we are essentially creating two-tiers of health care. All Quebec children deserve the same level of care."

Province-wide, a universal newborn hearing screening program would cost Quebec approximately $5 million/year in the first few years (to support the necessary building of infrastructure, including equipment). These costs include all the necessary expenditures from screening to intervention. INSPQ's Expert Task Force estimates that this financial investment will create a net benefit of 1.6 million per year to our society.

"Newborn hearing screening is essential. A simple, inexpensive test is able to detect profound hearing loss or a hearing deficit in newborns. This allows us to treat these children early allowing them to learn to talk and live completely normal lives," says Dr. Harvey Guyda, Executive Director of the Montreal Children's Hospital. "For this reason, both The Children's and the Royal Victoria Hospital approached their foundations asking them to invest $300,000 to launch a screening program at The Vic and a screening program and treatment program at The Children's."

Hearing loss is the most common birth defect affecting 1 to 3 of every 1000 newborns. Yet in Québec, newborns don't have their hearing tested. Early detection and treatment of hearing loss makes an enormous difference in the lives of the hearing impaired.

When an infant's hearing loss is detected late, the hearing impairment could lead not only to an inability to communicate using speech ,speech, but could also lead to developmental delay that will impact on the child's ability to learn and to become a productive and happy citizen. In the end, this but will end up costing society as the child will require in costs of special education and of may need income support due to poor employablity.

For more information please call:
Lisa Dutton

Lisa Dutton | McGill University Health Centre
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