/R E P E A T -- 100's of babies born at MUHC have benefited from Recently Launched Newborn Hearing Screening Program/

    May is Speech and Hearing Month

    MONTREAL, May 11 /CNW Telbec/ - 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
    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."

    /NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available on
    the CNW Photo Network and archived at http://photos.newswire.ca.
    Additional archived images are also available on the CNW Photo Archive
    website at http://photos.newswire.ca. Images are free to accredited
    members of the media/

For further information:

For further information: or to arrange an interview with one of our
specialists, to witness a hearing test or to talk with a new parent: Lisa
Dutton, Manager Public Relations and Communications, The Montreal Children's
Hospital of the MUHC, (514) 412-4307, Lisa.Dutton@muhc.mcgill.ca; Film footage
and photos can be taken between 1 & 3 p.m.

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McGill University Health Centre

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