Beginning in July 2019, NSO and the Ontario Infant Hearing Program (IHP) will be screening infants for hearing loss risk factors using the dried blood sample taken for the purposes of routine newborn screening. Specifically, with parental consent, PCR testing for cytomegalovirus (CMV) and mutation testing of selected genes associated with early onset permanent hearing loss will be done.
Approximately 750 infants a year are expected to have a CMV infection identified through screening. These infants will need an initial evaluation by a pediatrician to assess for symptomatic cCMV disease. Symptomatic infants may be eligible for antiviral treatment and will need referral to a pediatric Infectious Diseases specialist. Asymptomatic infants with cCMV will need ongoing surveillance in early childhood as they are at risk for developmental issues that pediatricians are uniquely trained to recognize. It is with this type of need in mind that the Pediatric Developmental At-Risk Assessment premium (K119) was introduced into the Schedule of Benefits. As well, asymptomatic infants will have about a 10% risk of permanent hearing loss before the age of 6 years and will be monitored by the IHP throughout this time.
We are currently recruiting for a diverse and motivated group of approximately 75 pediatricians throughout the province who will become key partners in this project by providing care to infants identified with cCMV infection through screening. Furthermore, those who are selected to participate will have the opportunity to shape and influence the direction of this innovative screening program, and help to elevate the level of respect for community pediatricians from decision makers, the profession, and the public.
Below you will find an inforgraphic and information sheet with more information as well as an application that can be submitted via e-mail. Kindly direct applications and any questions to NSOhearing@cheo.on.ca. The application deadline is Friday, March 1, 2019 and you will be notified of acceptance by March 22, 2019.
We look forward to the opportunity to work together.