Monday, September 15, 2008

Two Montreal Hospitals To Launch Hearing-Loss Screening Programs For Newborns

Montreal General Hospital

From The Montreal Gazette:

MONTREAL - Frustrated by government inaction, two Montreal hospitals today announced separately that they are launching their own screening programs to detect hearing loss in newborns.

Hearing loss is a common birth defect, affecting up to 3 out of every 1,000 newborns. Yet Quebec is one of the last provinces to set up such a program. Ontario, for example, has been screening newborns for hearing loss for six years.

"We didn't want to wait for the provincial government to do it," Mélanie Dallaire, a spokesperson for Ste. Justine, said in explaining the rationale behind the hospital's initiative.

Ste. Justine has budgeted $200,000 to run the program. An average of 4,000 babies are born annually in the province's largest pediatric hospital.

A universal hearing screening program for the whole province has been estimated to cost $5 million a year in the first few years. However, a provincial task force predicted that the investment would ultimately
generate a net gain of $1.6 million each year in health-care and special-needs savings for hearing-impaired children.

"Newborn screening is essential," said Harvey Guyda, executive director of the Montreal Children's Hospital.

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