Province Now Leads Canada in Newborn Screening with New Permanent Hearing Loss Risk
Elgin-Middlesex-London, July 3, 2019 - Genetic factors and infections are the leading
causes of permanent hearing loss for newborns and young children. That's why the
Ontario government is putting people and patients first by continuing to deliver
on its promise to protect what matters most so that babies across the province can
get earlier diagnosis and interventions to improve their health outcomes.
Today, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, was joined by Todd
Smith, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, and Jill Dunlop, Associate
Minister of Children and Women's Issues, at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario
(CHEO) to announce that the government is expanding Ontario's newborn screening
program to include the permanent hearing loss risk test for earlier identification
of babies at risk for hearing loss.
"Ontario continues to be a leader in newborn screening and we are proud to be the
first province in Canada to add the permanent hearing loss risk test for all newborns,"
said Elliott. "Some children are not born with permanent hearing loss but will develop
it in early childhood. Adding this screen for common permanent hearing loss risk
factors will enable earlier diagnosis and intervention and, in doing so, improve
health outcomes for children across Ontario. Our government is protecting what matters
most by ensuring that the smallest patients have access to the appropriate care
and treatment at the right time."
Newborn screening services are provided through Newborn Screening Ontario and completed
by taking a blood sample through a heel prick from each baby between 24 to 48 hours
after birth. The added screen for risk of permanent hearing loss will not require
collecting additional blood. Ontario also provides universal newborn hearing screening
for infants through the Infant Hearing Program.
"We know that early intervention will achieve the best outcomes for our youngest
and most vulnerable patients,” said MPP Jeff Yurek. “By addressing hearing loss
from the very beginning, these babies will be able to properly develop language
and other skills later in life and be better prepared for the future.”
Expected to be offered as of July 29, 2019, the new permanent hearing loss risk
test will identify approximately 100 additional babies per year who are affected
by, or at risk of, hearing loss.
"Since CHEO was given responsibility for Newborn Screening Ontario in 2006, our
dedicated and highly trained physicians and staff have screened almost 2 million
babies to help them achieve their best life," said Alex Munter, President and Chief
Executive Officer, CHEO. "We are pleased to add to that foundation to also support
Ontario's Infant Hearing Program in strengthening hearing screening in our province."
- Newborn Screening Ontario coordinates a province-wide system that screens all newborns
for a range of serious, treatable diseases and conditions, with over 145,000 screens
- Since Newborn Screening Ontario was created in 2006, it has tested over 1.9 million
newborns and identified over 2,500 babies who were subsequently diagnosed with diseases.
- The Ontario Infant Hearing Program identifies babies who may have or be at risk
of developing hearing loss. Since 2001, almost 2.5 million babies have been screened
across the province.