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May is Hearing Awareness Month

Two national organizations speak up to support newborn hearing screening across Canada

(Campbellton, New Brunswick)
May is Hearing Awareness Month across Canada, and no better time for the Canadian Academy of Audiology (CAA) and The Hearing Foundation of Canada to encourage parents to have their newborn's hearing tested, preferably before leaving the hospital. Hearing loss is the most common congenital condition for which screening is available.

According to CAA President, Ronald Choquette, "Research indicates that up to six in every one thousand babies born in Canada have a hearing loss, including profound deafness. If left undetected, these babies lose critical time for acquiring the foundation of speech and language and can quickly fall behind other children in acquiring communication skills they need for life-long success - academically, socially and emotionally."

Choquette recalls a recent story that illustrates the importance of infant hearing screening. "Two years ago a mom was concerned that her 2-year old son was not yet speaking. She had been to her family doctor who had told her it was nothing to worry about. When the boy was almost four years old, he was referred to an audiologist for a hearing evaluation. After a series of tests, he was diagnosed with a moderate permanent hearing loss in both ears, the most common of all birth defects. This bright young boy had been coping using visual cues and lip reading. Mom didn't know he was hard of hearing. Fitted with hearing aids and taking speech therapy, he is now trying to catch up to his hearing friends, but he has lost valuable years."

The test for the hearing loss in newborns takes only a few minutes, is safe and completely non-invasive and is so gentle, it is usually done while the infant is sleeping. Audiologists, who access and treat hearing loss, test babies' hearing in two ways: by an otoacoustic emissions test or an automatic auditory brainstem response.

If hearing loss is detected, audiologists can fit babies with hearing aids and along with other specialists, help provide a program of early intervention that will ensure children with hearing loss reach their full potential to develop the best possible communication skills.

The Hearing Foundation of Canada recently released video for parents called, "A Parent's Guide to Newborn Hearing Screening. One Simple Test Can Change Your Child's future" The 9-minute video has been distributed to audiologists, doctors, midwives and birthing centres across Canada and can be downloaded on the Hearing Foundation's web site.

Canada lags behind Europe and the United States where hearing screening for all newborns has been legislated in 33 states. At present, universal screening programs are being implemented only in Alberta, Ontario and New Brunswick. Not testing babies for hearing loss has enormous costs, both for children, families and tax payers.

The Canadian Academy of Audiology and The Hearing Foundation of Canada recommend that all babies be screened for hearing loss, preferably prior to leaving hospital, and strongly supports universal infant screening programs in all provinces and territories in Canada.

The Canadian Academy of Audiology represents professional audiologists all across Canada and in every discipline, clinical, private practice, academic/university, education and manufacturing. Audiologists are health professionnal reponsable for the assessment and rehabilitation of hearing problems from neonates to seniors.

The Hearing Foundation of Canada, a national charitable organization provides funding for medical research into hearing loss, services to help deaf, deafened and hard of hearing Canadians as well public education programs such as the recently produced newborn hearing screening videos.

For more information and photo op of a baby being screened:
Local Contact:
Name: Ronald Choquette, M.O.A., audiologist
Phone : (506)-789-5059
Fax: (506)-789-5366
Email: rchoquette@health.nb.ca

Ronald Choquette, President
The Canadian Academy of Audiology
Telephone: (416) 494-6672 / 1-800-264-5106
Fax: (416) 495-8723
Email: caa@base.onramp.ca
Web site : http://www.canadianaudiology.ca

Denis Piquette, President
The Hearing Foundation of Canada
Telephone: (416) 364-4060/ 1-866-HEAR-YOU Or (1-866-432-7968) Fax (416) 364-9638
Web site: www.hearingfoundation.ca

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