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Ophthalmia Neonatorum Memo – February 4, 2019

Parents Can Now Opt-Out of Prophylactic Eye Treatment to Prevent Ophthalmia Neonatorum

The purpose of this memo is to provide information regarding an amendment to Regulation 557 Communicable Diseases – General. Under this regulation, parents can now opt-out of the mandatory prophylactic eye treatment administered to all infants at birth to prevent transmission of Ophthalmia Neonatorum.

Beginning January 1, 2019 a parent may request in writing to their healthcare professional that prophylactic eye drops not be instilled in the eyes of their newborn.

This opt-out request may only be granted by the healthcare professional attending the birth of the child under certain conditions:

  • The parent of the child making the request has received information on the benefits and risks of administration of the ophthalmic agent, as well as information on the likely consequences of non-administration of the ophthalmic agent; and
  • An assessment has been done by a member of a health profession set out in Schedule 1 of the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 to confirm there is no serious risk of transmission to the child of an infectious agent that might cause Ophthalmia Neonatorum.

As an important part of routine prenatal care, screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) reduces the risk of Ophthalmia Neonatorum. Women who test negative but are at risk for acquiring infection later in pregnancy should be screened again in the third trimester.

Please see the fact sheet from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care for basic information.

If you have further questions about Ophthalmia Neonatorum or other reportable diseases, check out our Reportable Diseases Toolkit.