Saskatchewan doctor calls for better early hearing loss diagnosis in province

Dr. Lynne Brewster says Saskatchewan doesn't fare well at detecting early hearing loss.

Dr. Lynne Brewster says Royal University Hospital is the only place that has newborn hearing screening

A child wears an auditory brain stem implant to hear. (Sara D. Davis/Associated Press/UNC Health Care)

Dr. Lynne Brewster says Saskatchewan doesn't fare well at detecting early hearing loss. She is the program head of the Saskatchewan Pediatric Auditory Rehabilitation Centre.

"In Saskatchewan, the only place where we have a newborn hearing screening program, is at [Royal] University Hospital here in Saskatoon," she told CBC's Afternoon Edition

If that loss goes undiagnosed, then they begin to have academic problems in school, it affects their self-esteem.- Dr. Lynne Brewster

Brewster said compared to most other provinces and American states, Saskatchewan is far behind.

She said early screening can be done relatively inexpensively, and in many cases the intervention and rehabilitation that follows means the difference between the child being able to hear or not. 

"If that loss goes undiagnosed, then they begin to have academic problems in school, it affects their self-esteem, it affects their emotional state, covers the whole gamut," she said.

Brewster said that other places in the province would like to have the screening in place, but they also lack the other necessary programs for children with hearing loss.

"The concern is that if you identify the loss and you don't have the appropriate intervention services in place, why bother, because all you've done is caused a lot of anxiety for parents," she said.

Brewster said she is in talks with the provincial government, and hopes they can start supporting programs with more screening across Saskatchewan. 

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