100’s of babies born at MUHC have benefited from Recently Launched Newborn Hearing Screening Program

Montreal—May 11, 2009: Over the last three months, 100s of babies born at The McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) have undergone a simple screening test to rule out hearing loss, the most common type of birth defect affecting 1 to 3 of every 1000 newborns. Before babies are discharged from the Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH) they automatically have their hearing screened.

The MUHC Newborn Hearing Screening Program was started in March in partnership with The Montreal Children’s Hospital (MCH). Babies who do not pass the screening test are referred to the MCH for diagnostic evaluations, counseling and rehabilitation until each child with a hearing loss is followed in a rehabilitative setting in the community.

“It is absolutely wonderful, I was thrilled to know my new baby girl would automatically have her hearing tested,” says Ms. Jocelyn Hubbard, who recently gave birth to her second child at The Royal Victoria Hospital. “My older child, Anysley, was born with a profound hearing loss in one ear. We only realized she had a hearing problem when she was 16-months old. As a result, her speech and language skills were delayed. So, it is absolutely wonderful to know every newborn will have his or her hearing tested.”

“No matter how well a baby seems to hear, a hearing screening test is warranted. The earlier hearing loss is identified, the earlier intervention can be offered,” says Janet Mackay, the audiologist who oversees the program at the RVH.

“Newborn hearing screening is essential. A simple, inexpensive test is able to detect hearing problems in newborns. This allows us to treat these children early enabling them to reach their full potential,” says Louise Miller, Clinical Coordinator of the Audiology Department at the MCH.
While, most countries around the world screen newborns for potential hearing loss, this quick, simple, inexpensive test is not yet paid for by the Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services. For this reason, the RVH and MCH Foundations contributed $325,000 to launch the MUHC Newborn Hearing Screening Program.

When an infant’s hearing loss is detected late, the hearing impairment could lead not only to an inability to communicate using speech, but could also lead to developmental delays that will impact on the child's ability to learn and to become a productive citizen.
“This is terrific news for babies born at the MUHC’s Royal Victoria Hospital,” says Dr. Hema Patel, co-chair of the Quebec Coalition for a Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Program 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. Right now, the MUHC is able to provide this service, thanks to the generosity of its foundations and donors. But we are essentially creating two-tiers of health care. All Quebec children deserve the same level of care.”

For more information or to arrange an interview with one of our specialists, to witness a hearing test or to talk with a new parent please call.

Lisa Dutton
Manager Public Relations and Communications
The Montreal Children’s Hospital of the MUHC