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Québec Newborn Hearing Screening Program

Between 4 and 6 babies out of 1,000 born in Québec have varying degrees of hearing loss in one or both ears. For 1 in every 1,000 newborns, the degree of impairment is such that the child hears very poorly or not at all.

Children rely on hearing during the first months of their lives to develop their communications abilities. However, hearing loss may remain undetected by parents and other people in contact with the child during the early years of life.

Pilot Phase

The Québec Newborn Hearing Screening Program is meant to detect hearing loss at birth and to provide appropriate treatment in a timely manner. The suggested means and support for parents are aimed at fostering the child’s full development. Screening is free of charge and is offered to parents on a voluntary basis. The screening tests are done at the hospital or birthing centre in the hours immediately following birth. The tests take little time, are not painful, and can even be done while the newborn is asleep.

A Montréal area pilot phase of the program is under way at the Centre hospitalier universitaire Sainte-Justine. The program is also available for the Lanaudière area since April 2015 at the Centre hospitalier régional de Lanaudière, and for the Montérégie area at the Hôtel-Dieu in Sorel.

The pilot phase is needed to ensure that the program fully complies with quality control standards.

Once the evaluation of the program has been completed, a plan to gradually roll it out to the other regions of Québec will be implemented.

Currently Available Screening

Some Québec health institutions already offer hearing loss screening. Newborns with known risk factors are usually screened and treated by hospital staff.

However, parents who have concerns about their child’s hearing can see a physician.

Here are some indicators to help you monitor the development of your child’s ability to communicate:


Developmental indicators for children

0 to 3 months

  • Startles at loud and sudden noises
  • Becomes calm when a familiar voice is heard

3 to 6 months

  • Makes noises with his or her mouth
  • Turns head and looks around for voices that he or she recognizes
  • Likes toys that make sounds (ex.: rattles)

6 to 12 months

  • Responds to own name
  • Turns head and looks in the direction of recognized sounds
  • Begins using babytalk (ex.: “dadada”, “mamama”)
  • Starts to understand certain words like “no” or “bye-bye”

12 to 18 months

  • Says more and more words
  • Understands simple instructions from parents
  • Points to body parts or pictures in a book
  • Imitates animal noises

18 to 24 months

  • Reacts when spoken to from another room
  • Uses about 20 words at 18 months, and 100 words at 24 months
  • Starts forming short 2 or 3 word sentences
  • Understands instructions like “go find…” and “show me…”

And keep in mind…
As a parent, you’re a role model for your child. Speak to him or her as often as possible, using the right words. Play with words and sounds—make up rhymes, imitate animal noises. Name the objects that you see around you.

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