Manitoba

Province expanding newborn hearing screening to all of Manitoba

The province is expanding hearing screening for newborns to all of its regional health authorities.

Currently, newborn hearing screening only offered in Winnipeg, Brandon and Thompson

A 2014 study found Canada isn't meeting international benchmarks for newborn hearing screening and care because many babies are not being screened. The Province of Manitoba plans to make newborn hearing screening universal by September 2016. (Agnes Fuchs/Elks & Royal Purple Fund)

The province is expanding hearing screening for newborns to all of its regional health authorities.

The announcement was made on Thursday by Health Minister Sharon Blady.

Currently, screening is only offered in Brandon, at Winnipeg's neonatal intensive care units and in Thompson.

The new universal program will offer hearing screening services to newborns in Portage la Prairie, Steinbach, Morden/Winkler, Selkirk Dauphin, Neepawa, Prairie Mountain, The Pas, Flin Flon and in the Northern Regional Health Authority.

Provincial officials said quick diagnosis of hearing loss in children is key in helping them develop cognitive, speech and learning skills.

Last year, a Canadian study found many newborns weren't being screened for hearing issues at birth. Undetected hearing problems can limit the child's ability to communicate and put brain development at risk, the study said. 

The program should be implemented by September 2016, according to provincial officials, and will cost the province more than $3 million in new funding.

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