Friday, January 06, 2012

If you are pregnant in Manitoba, please be aware that it is very important that you ask to have your baby's hearing tested (screened) very soon after he/she is born; Transplanting Bald Eagles to New Jersey from Manitoba has made a difference.

If you are pregnant in Manitoba, please be sure your newborn's hearing is checked at birth:  It is very important for all newborns to have their hearing tested very shortly after they are born.  For quite some time now, the technology has been widely available to test the hearing of all newborns.  The tests which are used have long names - either otoacoustic emissions (OAE) testing or automated auditory brainstem response (AABR) testing.  Hearing loss is the commonest medical problem which is found readily by screening at birth which is one reason why screening for hearing loss is so important.  Another big reason why screening for hearing loss at birth is so important is that a newborn with a hearing loss can be helped, and this can make a difference for the rest of your child's life. 

Children who have hearing loss who are not screened and are missed early on may have impaired language development and social abilities and can have lifelong struggles.  Children who are screened and found to have hearing loss at birth will develop better language and social abilities and be more successful. 

Sadly, Manitoba is one of the very few remaining jurisdictions in North America where we do not have universal newborn hearing screening.  This means that if you have a child born in Manitoba you need to ask, indeed insist, that your child has a hearing screening test soon after he/she is born.

I have been advocating for universal newborn hearing screening in Manitoba for some time. We have encountered tremendous resistance to such screening from the NDP in Manitoba.  However, even though we do not have universal newborn hearing screening, you should be able to get it in whichever centre your child is born.  If you are told that it can't be done for your child, please call my office at 204-945-5194 or email me at jon.gerrard@leg.gov.mb.ca and we will be your advocate and do everything we can to make sure you get the hearing screening you need for your baby.  

Please note that as I report on my blog Dr. Hema Patel, a prominent Montreal pediatrician, says it is a neurological emergency to detect and help a child early who has a hearing difficulty.  (see http://manitobaliberals.blogspot.com/2011/10/universal-newborn-hearing-screening-dr.html )  It is considered a neurologic emergency because a child whose hearing loss is detected at birth can be helped to develop normally.  A child whose hearing loss is detected late - at age three, four or five, may miss a very critical and sensitive developmental window and may as a result have lifelong difficulties with speech, language and social activities.

For more information on newborn hearing screening please visit http://www.thfc.ca/cms/en/ChildrenYouth/NewbornHearingScreening.aspx?menuid=106

Transplanting Bald Eagles from Manitoba to New Jersey helped to renew the Bald Eagle population there which is now at 100 pairs: Back in early 1983, when I was contacted by Jack Swedberg about the possibility of transplanting young Bald Eagles from Manitoba to the United States, it was hoped that this would be important in restoring the Bald Eagle population of New Jersey to health. With the very recent news that the number of Bald Eagles in New Jersey has now reached the milestone of 100 nesting pairs, we now know the effort which resulted has been very, very successful. The 100 nesting pairs are almost all descended from 60 eagles transplanted from Canada, primarily, perhaps exclusively, from Manitoba.

This is a big story in various newspapers. The reports are that it was Canadian eagles that saved the day for the US. What is missed in the recent stories is that fact that the eagles were from Manitoba. Team Manitoba should get some credit. People like Bob Nero, David Hatch and Bill Koonz should get credit for this tremendous effort.

For the recent story see http://www.montrealgazette.com/technology/Canadian+transplants+bring+bald+eagle+back+from+brink/5946375/story.html

For the background on the transplantation of eagles from Manitoba to New Jersey, see:
http://www.canadiangeographic.ca/wildlife-nature/articles/pdfs/bald-eagle-eagles-across-the-border.pdf

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