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Your baby's diagnostic hearing assessment

hearing; newborn; assessment; diagnostic;


hearing screening
If your baby does not show a clear result during the newborn hearing screening process, a diagnostic assessment will be arranged. There can be a number of reasons for this.



Why does my baby need a diagnostic assessment?

It could be that:

  • your baby was unsettled during the hearing screens
  • there was fluid or a temporary blockage in your baby's ear after the birth
  • your baby may have some degree of hearing loss.

It is important to find out as soon as possible how well your baby hears so that you and your baby can get the correct advice and support.

What will happen at the assessment?

The aim of the diagnostic assessment is to obtain a more complete picture of your baby's hearing.

The evaluation will include a number of tests. These will give detailed information about how your baby hears.

An audiologist, who is a specialist in hearing testing, will carry out the tests. None of the tests hurt your baby.

How do I prepare my baby for the assessment?

It is best if your baby sleeps during the diagnostic assessment. It is helpful if feeding and sleep can be delayed on the day until you are at the appointment.

Arrive a little early to give yourself time to feed and settle your baby to sleep.

If you have other children at home, please arrange to have someone mind them, so that you can stay with your baby.

As the diagnostic assessment includes more tests than in the initial screen you should be prepared to set aside the morning or afternoon, depending on when your appointment has been scheduled.

hearing screening

How is the diagnostic assessment done?

This diagnostic test is called the Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) test.

Sensors similar to those used in the screen will be placed on your baby's head and sounds will be played through headphones or earplugs to your baby.

Your baby's responses to the sounds are recorded electronically and will determine the softest levels that your baby can hear.

What will happen after the tests?

The audiologist will be able to inform you of the results and explain what the results mean, usually on the same day. If your baby is found to have a hearing loss, you will be referred to the appropriate specialist and intervention services.
A report will be sent to these services and copies sent to you and your doctor with your consent. The audiologist will assist you and your baby to get the services and support that you may need.

If your baby is found to have normal hearing but at a later stage you become concerned about your child's hearing, speech or language development, please arrange to have your child's hearing tested again.
Hearing can be tested at any age.

For more information in South Australia

hearing screening
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.

Download a (PDF) brochure of this topic
Download PDFYour baby's diagnostic assessment  (1mb)

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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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