WHITEHORSE—Yukon is one of three Canadian jurisdictions that did not wait for a recommendation from the Canadian Paediatric Society to introduce universal newborn hearing screening program: Yukon has had such a program since 2002.
“Nine years ago, Yukon recognized the importance of having every infant screened for hearing loss shortly after birth,” Health and Social Services Minister Glenn Hart said.
Working with Hearing Services and maternity staff at Whitehorse General Hospital, Yukon government introduced the universal program aimed at screening all newborns at the hospital where approximately 365 babies are born each year.
“We know testing infants can prevent severe and costly developmental delays and it also means these babies are diagnosed long before they start to speak and can get help and support that much earlier,” Hart added.
Yukon, Ontario and British Columbia have universal programs, and Quebec has announced plans to create one. Other provinces only test babies at high risk of hearing loss, premature infants and those suffering serious infections like meningitis. In Yukon, infants are tested as early as 12 hours old by maternity nurses with special training.
Hearing loss is one of the most common congenital disorders, affecting about five in every 1,000 newborns, but about half of those affected have no obvious risk factors.
May is Speech and Hearing Month in Canada.
|Pat Living |
Communications, Health & Social Services
Yukon Hospital Corporation