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This article was published 16/8/2016 (370 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
It took a couple of minutes with little buds in her ears to test her hearing, but four-week-old Mabel Shodine slept through the whole thing.
The daughter of Alana and Ryan Shodine had her hearing checked Tuesday at the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba as part of the province’s new universal newborn hearing screening program.
Mabel and another infant girl, Camila Vicente, had their ears tested for a second time to demonstrate at a media conference the hearing tests for newborn are quick and non-invasive.
"I’m happy that she was able to get it done," said Alana, Mabel’s mom. Mabel, Alana’s first baby, was first tested at 21/2 weeks of age. "From what they’ve said, it helps because they’re screening for any kinds of problems with their hearing that can affect the rest of their development cognitively, so it’s pretty important."
The announcement was made by Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen along with Diana Dinon, the regional manager for the program. While the official launch date is Sept. 1, the program is already available across the province.
Dinon said the program’s goal is for earlier diagnosis of hearing loss in children and earlier referrals for intervention services that will assist in the speech, language and cognitive development of those children.
"Optimally, for the first test, (the baby’s age is) 24 hours," Dinon said, noting because of shorter lengths of hospital stays, the first test may be done as early as 15 hours for a vaginal delivery and 22 hours for a Caesarian.
"There are targets. We want to have a baby screened by the time they’re a month old. We want them diagnosed by the time they’re three months and into intervention by the time they’re six months."
Dinon said critical language development for children takes place during their first two years, so the quicker hearing loss is detected and treated, the better opportunity for their speech and language to develop appropriately.
"Studies show that children who are early identified and early fit (with appropriate treatment) can catch up to their peers by entry into school," she said.
The Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Act was introduced in 2013 on a private member’s bill by now-retired Progressive Conservative MLA Leanne Rowat. She estimated she introduced it two or three times over five years before it was passed.
"I’m just so happy," said Rowat, who drove to Winnipeg from her home in Lake of the Prairies for the announcement. "We needed this program, not just sporadically but available throughout the province. Not just high-risk — because even some of those were being missed — but for all children."
The province said as many as 102 children in Manitoba each year are born with some hearing loss among 16,000 to 17,000 births.
Dinon said there are three diagnostic facilities in Winnipeg and others in Brandon and Thompson.
Goertzen said the program will be available in hospitals where there are more than 75 births per year. Infants born at home or in facilities with fewer than 75 births per year will be referred to the nearest outpatient hearing centre for screening.
"We do know that consistent screening and early screening is important to the outcome for those children who may be having a hearing deficiency," Goertzen said.
There will be a common database to ensure children who are born in one region but live in another will have co-ordinated care. The province has so far invested more than $3 million into the program, which includes staff training in each region.