The Montreal Children’s Hospital of the MUHC pleads for a universal hearing-screening program for all newborns

Is anybody listening?

MCH launches letter-writing campaign

Montreal, May 7, 2008 –  The Montreal Children’s Hospital (MCH) of the MUHC urges the government of Quebec to launch a universal hearing-screening program for all newborns born in Quebec. The MCH supports a letter writing campaign that will continue until the end of May, which is hearing awareness month, so that members of the general public, parents of children with hearing deficits and professionals in health and education can express their support.  
The administration and professional staff of The Montreal Children’s Hospital encourage the government to act on the recommendations made in a report recently submitted by the Institut national de santé publique du Québec that strongly endorses the establishment of a province wide universal hearing-screening program.   

Hearing loss is one of the most common birth defects. It is estimated that one to three of every 1000 newborns have hearing problems. When hearing loss is detected early, steps can be taken to significantly improve the child’s access to sound and help him or her learn to talk.

The cost of a hearing-screening test is $35 per newborn. In the long run, detecting hearing loss early would save the medical and education system $400,000 per child [1]. A universal hearing-screening program just makes sense.

 “Quite simply, it is the right thing to do,” says MCH pediatrician Hema Patel, whose son was born with profound hearing loss. “When children with hearing loss are identified early and given access to treatment and therapy, the majority will learn to talk. Most provinces already have well-established universal hearing-screening programs. Don’t the children of Quebec deserve the same level of care?”

MCH could launch universal hearing-screening program tomorrow

The Montreal Children’s Hospital already conducts hearing-screening tests on approximately 480 babies born prematurely at McGill affiliated hospitals. These children are considered at high risk of a hearing deficit. But unfortunately, normal newborns with hearing loss do not benefit from this program.

The MCH could expand its hearing-screening program tomorrow to ensure all of the 3120 healthy new babies born in McGill affiliated hospitals are tested. The MCH has the expertise and has already prepared a business plan. The program is literally poised for implementation.  Only one thing is missing…the money to finance the program.

“We estimate it would cost just over $487,000 per year to conduct such a program so that 3120 healthy newborns born in hospitals related to McGill University would be screened and the identified children with permanent hearing loss would receive early treatment” says the team of audiologists at MCH. “If the government would okay the funding, we’d be virtually able to launch our program overnight. We’d then be able to identify and immediately begin treating children with hearing loss. It would make a major difference in the quality of life, not to mention saving the health and education system money in the long-run.”

[1] White, L.R. and Maxon, A.B., 1995

Letter writing campaign

The Montreal Children’s Hospital is facilitating a letter writing campaign. It is asking parents and relatives of children with hearing loss, members of the general public and professionals in the health and education fields to support the establishment and funding of a universal hearing-screening program in Quebec. Supporters are asked to sign a letter addressed to Health and Social Services Minister Philippe Couillard and to send the letter back to The Montreal Children’s Hospital of the MUHC before the end of May. The MCH will collect and deliver the signed letters to the Minister. The letter can be downloaded from the MCH website www.thechildren.com.

To download the letter, click here

For more information please call:

Lisa Dutton
Manager
Public Relations and Communications
The Montreal Children’s Hospital of the MUHC
514-412-4307
Lisa.Dutton@muhc.mcgill.ca

Factoids:
·    The MCH ER is the busiest children’s Emergency Room in Canada.
·    The MCH has three neurosurgeons, more than any other Children’s Hospital in Canada.