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PIA Press Release
Saturday, January 14, 2012

Malolos leads with first Newborn Hearing Screening Program

by Jose Mari M. Garcia

CITY OF MALOLOS, Bulacan, Jan 14 (PIA) –- In a bid to save more babies from experiencing hearing defects while growing up, Malolos conducted the first Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Program in the country this year at the Malolos Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital recently.

Mayor Christian Natividad said the program ensures the safety of babies delivered in the city. He also expressed his support to the program, adding that he will discuss the possibility of a newborn screening program with the Rotary Club of Malolos.

Dr. Charlotte M. Chiong, deputy director of the Philippine National Ear Institute, lauded the city government for pioneering this advocacy this year in the about 250,000-strong residents in the Bulacan capital.

According to St. Luke’s Medical Center, hearing disability is one of the most common disorders of babies around the world. It is said that one out of 1,000 infants are born with hearing impairment, which means that if two million babies are born annually, then 200 of them will be born with a hearing defect.

“These impairments though can be detected early through screening and can be treated and rehabilitated accordingly,” said Dr. Norberto V. Martinez of St. Luke’s in a report.

Newborn Screening Reference Center (NSRC) said newborn screening is a simple procedure to find out if a baby has a congenital metabolic disorder that may lead to mental retardation and even death if left untreated.

“Most babies with metabolic disorders look normal at birth. One will never know that the baby has the disorder until the onset of signs and symptoms and more often, ill effects are already irreversible,” said NSRC.

The program was also pursuant to Republic Act 9709 or the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Act of 2009 which mandates the establishment of programs for the prevention, early diagnosis, and intervention of hearing loss through newborn screening which costs only some P550.

The Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Program was made possible through the help of St. Francis School-VSA Arts Philippines, Inc., JICA Philippines, Malolos EENT Hospital, Department of Health, and Malolos. (WLB/JMG-PIA 3)

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