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Newborn Screening in Ontario

Newborn screening is a public health system made up of many integral parts including education, screening, diagnosis, management and evaluation. Newborn Screening Ontario (NSO), based at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) in Ottawa, is the provincial program that coordinates and oversees newborn screening in Ontario, and was founded in 2005.

NSO communicates with a multitude of stakeholders to ensure the newborn screening system runs smoothly, including:

  • Parents/guardians
  • Hospitals, birthing centres, and midwifery practices
  • Prenatal and newborn health care providers
  • Regional Treatment Centres
  • The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

These partnerships have helped NSO develop the most comprehensive newborn screening program in Canada.

The primary goal of newborn screening is the early identification of affected infants in time to prevent serious health problems. To do so, every infant must be offered screening. Realizing this goal involves the combined efforts of health care providers across the province.

All infants born in Ontario should have the opportunity to have high quality newborn screening completed. While all the diseases tested for are rare and not usually apparent at birth, collectively about 250 infants in Ontario will be found to have one of these diseases every year (~1 in 600 infants born). Health care providers can help these children have the best start in life through timely newborn screening, early diagnosis, and treatment. The cost of missing one of these diseases is immense, both in human suffering and in financial terms. Untreated infants can develop intellectual deficits, serious health problems, or even die, sometimes without a diagnosis being made.


Contact NSO

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