Province Announces Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Program to be Implemented in Manitoba

August 16, 2016

A universal hearing screening program for all Manitoba newborns is being implemented in all regional health authorities as of Sept. 1, Health, Seniors and Active Living Minister Kelvin Goertzen announced today.

“Early detection and diagnosis helps children with congenital hearing loss get the treatment they need as early as possible,” said Goertzen.  “Manitoba families will benefit from a universal program with consistent screening services across the province, so children with congenital hearing loss have the opportunity to develop strong cognitive, speech-processing and learning skills.”

There are between 16,000 and 17,000 births in Manitoba annually, and every year between 17 and 102 children are born with some hearing loss.

The hearing screening program is now available at 13 health-care facilities across the province including:
• Health Sciences Centre Winnipeg and St. Boniface General Hospital in Winnipeg;
• Portage District General Hospital, Bethesda Hospital in Steinbach, Ste. Anne Hospital and Boundary Trails Health Centre in Morden–Winkler in the Southern Health – Santé Sud health region;
• Selkirk and District General Hospital in the Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority;
• Brandon Regional Health Centre, Dauphin Health Centre and the Neepawa Health Centre in the Prairie Mountain Health region; and
• Thompson General Hospital, St. Anthony’s General Hospital in The Pas and the Flin Flon General Hospital in the Northern Regional Health Authority.

“The first two years of a child’s life are the most important for language development,” said Diana Dinon, regional manager, Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Program, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.  “Providing hearing screening to all babies born in Manitoba and referring those at need for early intervention will help to ensure the best outcomes as they grow.”‎

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.  A common database will ensure individuals born in one region and living in another will have co-ordinated care.

The Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Act was introduced in 2013 and received all-party support.  Since that time, regulations and standard processes and procedures were developed and the necessary equipment was installed throughout the province to provide services, the minister noted.

The province has invested more than $3 million in the program to date including equipment, staff, training and operating costs.

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