Association of Ontario Midwives

Association of Ontario Midwives

November 26, 2015 11:57 ET

Association of Ontario Midwives: Media Advisory; Provincial Campaign to End Mandatory Eye Antibiotics Reaches Queen's Park

News conference by MPP Todd Smith (Prince Edward-Hastings), Belleville midwife Liza van de Hoef and researcher Liz Darling

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Nov. 26, 2015) - A Belleville midwife trying to change the law requiring all newborn babies to receive unnecessary antibiotic drops in their eyes is taking her campaign to Queen's Park on Monday, November 30.

The administration of antibiotic eye drops (known as eye prophylaxis) was introduced in the 1800s to prevent blindness in infants whose mothers had chlamydia or gonorrhea. Today, routine antenatal screening for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and access to rapid, post-infection treatment with antibiotics have all but eliminated this threat.

Both the Association of Ontario Midwives (AOM) and the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) have issued position statements against this outdated public health policy, which is no longer supported by clinical research evidence.

"The Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) believes that physicians caring for newborns should advocate for the rescinding of these mandatory neonatal ocular prophylaxis laws. It would be more effective to screen all pregnant women for gonorrhea and chlamydia infection and treat and follow-up those found to be infected," says Dr. Dorothy Moore, an infectious diseases specialist at the Montreal Children's Hospital and an associate professor of pediatrics at McGill University. Moore was one of the principal authors of Preventing ophthalmia neonatorum, a position statement on eye prophylaxis published by the Canadian Paediatric Society this year.

Despite the research demonstrating that antibiotic drops (called erythromycin) are not an effective method of preventing neonatal eye infections, the Ontario Health Protection and Promotion Act requires midwives and physicians to administer them within one hour after a baby is born. If parents refuse to have the ointment administered, the Children's Aid Society may be called and the baby removed until the drops are administered.

As the guest of MPP Todd Smith (Prince Edward-Hastings), midwife Liza van de Hoef will participate in a morning media conference, along with midwife researcher Liz Darling, PhD. In the afternoon, MPP Smith will present van de Hoef's petition, which calls for an end to the mandatory administration of antibiotic eye drops. The petition was signed by 1239 Ontarians.

WHO:

  • MPP Todd Smith (Prince Edward-Hastings)
  • Liza van de Hoef, a registered midwife (RM) at Quinte Midwives in Belleville
  • Liz Darling, RM, PhD, midwife researcher and member of the Provincial Council for Maternal and Child Health's Low Risk Maternal Newborn Strategy Expert Panel
  • Midwifery consumers Laura and Curtis Hardy and their child

WHAT: News conference calling for the end of mandatory eye antibiotics for newborns

WHEN: Monday, November 30 at 10:00 a.m.

WHERE: Queen's Park Media Studio, Legislative Building, Room 148, First Floor, West Wing

Contact Information

  • Juana Berinstein
    Director, Policy and Communications
    Association of Ontario Midwives
    Cell: 416-371-1468
    Juana.berinstein@aom.on.ca

    Sabina Hikel Manager
    Policy and Communications
    Association of Ontario Midwives
    Cell: 416-871-5817
    sabina.hikel@aom.on.ca