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Brighter Future for Hearing Impaired Babies

MEDIA RELEASE
19 May 2006

Budget Delivers Brighter Future for Hearing Impaired Babies


The National Foundation for the Deaf welcomes The Budget’s commitment of funds to establish a hearing screening programme for all newborns.

Marianne Schumacher, executive manager for the National Foundation for the Deaf said yesterday’s announcement will mean that every child will have the chance for a better start in life.

“Of the 55,000 babies born in New Zealand every year, around 138 are born with moderate or greater hearing loss which is not detected until the children are almost four years old (45 months). The internationally recommended age for identifying hearing loss is three months, with intervention and rehabilitation starting before six months of age.

New Zealand lags behind most other developed countries in the age of identification of a hearing loss. In the UK, USA and Australia – even in Croatia – the average age of detection is three months.

“Research shows that children diagnosed before six months of age who then have access to appropriate early intervention are more likely to develop normal speech, language and communication skills than those who are diagnosed later.

“This is fantastic news and will be welcomed by parents and parents-to-be around New Zealand,” says Ms Schumacher.

ENDS

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