EDMONTON — Alberta Health Services is now offering a test to screen newborns for permanent hearing loss.
The Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program checks babies before they turn one month old.
The government says the service will be freely offered at all 13 neonatal intensive care units, many community sites, and postpartum units at most busy hospitals.
The quick and pain-free test involves playing soft sounds into the child's ears as they are sleeping or quiet.
Infants who do not pass the test will be sent for a specialized hearing test to rule out or confirm permanent hearing loss and determine its severity.
Between 110 and 160 babies are born with permanent hearing loss every year in Alberta.
"It is important for babies to have their hearing screened as early as possible, ideally by one month of age,” Tanis Howarth, director of provincial audiology said Wednesday.
"The earlier we can identify hearing loss, the earlier we can offer intervention services and support language development."
Previously, newborn screening was only offered sporadically throughout Alberta.
Without screening, there are no obvious early signs that signal an infant has hearing loss. And even if a baby responds to sounds, they may not hear well enough to develop language. (CTV Edmonton)
The Canadian Press