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October 30, 2002

Doctors welcome hearing test for newborns

From: CBC Ottawa, Canada
Oct. 30, 2002

KINGSTON, ONT. - Health professionals are praising a new screening test that detects whether newborn babies have hearing problems.

Seven hospitals in Eastern Ontario are among a growing number in the province that are offering the screening to new moms.

"The children born deaf or hard of hearing are at very high risk for delays in language," says Sonia Bianchet, a speech pathologist in Kingston. "By identifying these babies early on, we can make sure they have the best choices for success with communication development, with school, with life."

The procedure is quick and painless. Nurses put a probe into the sleeping baby's ear. If hearing loss is detected, parents can decide on a course of action right away, rather than trying to catch up two or three years later.

That's what happened to Melissa Drolet, whose son didn't have the benefit of the test.

Melissa and her husband first twigged that something was wrong with their son when he was eight months old. Jeremy didn't make a sound. He often didn't respond when his parents spoke to him.

Two years ago, the Belleville couple began what turned out to be a long and frustrating series of visits to doctors. Each time, they were told Jeremy was fine.

It wasn't until this past August that a pediatrician finally confirmed what they already knew.

"He saw Jeremy and five minutes after he said to me, 'Yeah, you're right, Jeremy doesn't hear. He's interacting well. He's very smart,'" said Melissa.

Jeremy, it turns out, is profoundly deaf. The Drolets now take him twice a month to a hospital for therapy.

Sonia Bianchet says Jeremy is one of many children who would have benefited greatly from early testing.

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