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Your baby's follow-up hearing screening

hearing; screening; screen; test; neonatal; impairment; deaf; deafness; audiologist; automated; auditory; brainstem; evoked; response; OAE oto; acoustic; emissions; baby; neonate; new; born;


The information in this topic is for parents of newborn babies in South Australia when their baby needs a follow-up hearing screening.

follow-up hearing screenIn the first few weeks of life your baby will have several routine health checks. One of these checks that your baby hears the sounds needed to learn to talk. As a result of the first screen, some babies need a follow-up screen of their hearing.

This topic explains why your baby needs a second hearing screen and what it will involve.

Why does my baby need another hearing screen?

Some babies need to have a second hearing screen because the first screen did not show a strong enough response from the baby's ears. This doesn't necessarily mean your baby has a hearing impairment.

Some common reasons for needing another screen are:

  • your baby was unsettled during the screening
  • your baby's ears were still too moist to respond to the first simple test. It can take a few days for this moisture to dry.
  • there was some other matter which entered the ear canal during birth. This is very common and it will clear with time.
  • your baby may have some degree of hearing loss.

Where will the second hearing screen be done?

The second hearing screen will be done by a Child and Family Health Service (CaFHS) nurse, either in your home or at a community CaFHS clinic.

What does the second hearing screen involve?

The screen needs to be done in a quiet place while your baby is settled and quiet.

follow-up hearing screenThe second hearing screen may include an Automated Auditory Brainstem Response (AABR) screen. This involves placing 3 small sensors on your baby's head. Small headphone cups are put over your baby's ears or a small soft-tipped ear-piece is used and a series of clicking sounds are played. A computer measures how well your baby responds to sound.

The hearing screen will only take a few minutes and you can stay with your baby while it is done. This screen is not painful or uncomfortable, and it is usually done while your baby is asleep.

You will be given the results of the screen as soon as the screen is completed.

My baby seems to be responding to sounds – is a second hearing screen really necessary?

Most babies are found to have no hearing impairment after the second hearing screen, but it is still very important that your baby has the second screen. Babies who have a hearing impairment will still usually react to some sounds. If your baby does have a hearing impairment it is very important that you find out as soon as possible.

If your baby has a PASS result from the second hearing screen

This means that your baby almost certainly has good hearing.

The results of hearing screening give a good indication of your baby's hearing at the time of the screen. Most children with permanent hearing impairment already have this condition from birth, but it is possible for a child to develop a hearing impairment later because of inherited conditions, middle ear infections or certain other infections or illnesses.

If you have any concerns about your child's hearing, or speech and language at any time, talk to your doctor or community CaFHS nurse.

It is recommended that you take your baby for the child health checks listed in your baby's Personal Health Record (the ‘Blue Book'). The community CaFHS nurse will talk to you about your child's hearing, speech and language development. This will provide you with an opportunity to talk to the nurse if you are concerned.

If your baby has a REFER result from the second hearing screen

If your baby does not have a pass result from the second hearing screen you will be referred to a paediatric audiologist (a specialist in testing the hearing of babies and children). This is a free service. The nurse will discuss this with you.

What the audiologist will do

The audiologist will conduct a full hearing assessment. If there is a hearing impairment the test will show how significant it is and if it is likely to be temporary or permanent.

If appropriate, the audiologist will refer you to other specialists, for example an ear, nose and throat specialist.

What happens to the results?

The results of the test and any further assessment needed will be discussed with you by the nurse or audiologist as soon as the test is done. The test results will be sent to Women's and Children's Health Network to ensure that appropriate follow-up and referral can be arranged. The information will also help to monitor the quality of the program. All personal health information is treated with strict confidentiality.

For more information

If you have any questions about the hearing screening program, or if you are anxious about your baby's screening results at any stage, further information and advice is available from Parent Helpline Telephone: 1300 364 100

Non-English speaking: for information in languages other than English, call the Interpreting and Translating Centre and ask them to call The Department of Health. This service is available at no cost to you, contact (08) 8226 1990.

© Department of Health, Government of South Australia

Download a (PDF) brochure of this topic
Download PDF Your baby's follow-up hearing screening  (388kb)

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The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see your doctor or midwife.


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