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January 6, 2004


From: Bath Chronicle, UK - Jan 6, 2004

Bath and Avon primary care trusts have been praised by the Government for introducing screening of newborn babies for hearing problems. The two trusts are among 54 congratulated by Health Minister Stephen Ladyman for taking part in the NHS Newborn Hearing Screening programme.

As of last month, the 54 locations in England have been trained and are screening about half of newborns. Already, 250,000 babies have been screened, and nearly 250 identified and confirmed with hearing loss before the age of six months.

Mr Ladyman, said: "This Government wants to make sure that every child gets the best start in life.

"Early detection of deafness and hearing impairment improves language and communication skills, leading to better educational achievement and quality of life.

"Hearing screening of newborn babies started in 2001 with 20 pilot sites. We are encouraged that this has more than doubled to 54 sites in the last couple of years, and by 2005, hope all sites in England will be participating."

Susan Daniels, chief executive of the National Deaf Children's Society, said: "We are delighted that the NHS Newborn Hearing Screening Programme is being implemented in so many sites and look forward to seeing a complete nationwide roll-out.

"Early diagnosis of a hearing loss is extremely important.

"If a baby is identified by six months, and a good early intervention and support programme is developed, a deaf child can develop language at the same rate as a hearing child."

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