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Newborn Hearing Screening


Hearing Screening in the Hospital

If your baby is born in a hospital setting, the hearing screening will be done in either in the Well-Baby Nursery, or in a special care nursery such as a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The type of screening test used in each of the nurseries is slightly different.

The hearing screening will be performed in both nurseries by hospital nurses or by specially trained screeners from the community. Screening is quick, simple and safe – it is not painful and will not hurt your baby in any way. It takes only minutes to complete and your baby will probably sleep through the whole experience.

Screening in the Well-Baby Nursery

In the Well-Baby Nursery, the test used is called a Distortion Product Otoacoustic Emission (DPOAE). A soft ear tip is placed in the baby’s ear and faint sounds are played through it.

The ear’s response to these sounds is measured and results are given right away. The ears are tested one at a time.

Screening in the Special Care Nursery

In the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, a test called the Automated Auditory Brainstem Response (AABR) is used. Small tips that produce sounds are placed in the baby’s ears.

What is different about this test is that a sticky pad is placed on the baby’s forehead and behind each ear. These pads measure the brain’s response to sounds. A computer analyzes the responses and gives the tester results in just a few minutes.


Hearing Screening in Community Centres

For some babies the hearing screening may not be done or may not be completed before discharge from the hospital. This might happen if there is not enough time to see the baby for the test before discharge, or if the baby is too restless to complete the test.

If this happens, the family will be contacted by the local IHP office to set up an appointment for screening at a convenient local screening center. If the family is not contacted within a month of hospital discharge, they should call the local IHP office and arrange an appointment. Click here for local IHP office numbers. At the community screening centers both the DPOAE and AABR screening tests can be done.

Screening Results