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Screening Results

What screening results mean

Most babies will receive a pass result from the screening test. This means that the baby's hearing in each ear was fine at the time of the test. For a very small group of infants, a hearing impairment may develop at a later stage in childhood, so it is very important to watch for signs of hearing loss as the baby grows. 

Passed but is at risk

Some babies who pass the initial screening are known to be at risk of developing a hearing impairment in childhood.  These babies should have their hearing screened again at about four months of age, and again about six months later. 

The first re-screen is done with the baby asleep. The second re-screen, when the baby is about 10 months of age, is a test called VRA (Visual Reinforcement Audiometry). This test is done with the baby awake.

VRA (Visual Reinforcement Audiometry) is a hearing test usually done with the baby siting on the parent's/caregiver's lap. Sounds are presented either through earphones or through a loudspeaker. The baby is quickly taught to turn his/her head in response to sounds. If the test can be done with earphones, information about the baby's hearing in each ear can be obtained.

The baby's family will be contacted by the IHP when it is time for the re-screening. It is very important to keep this appointment because if a hearing loss does develop, it needs to be discovered as soon as possible. Many developing hearing losses cannot be detected by the family/caregivers, even if they pay close attention to the baby's responses to sound.

Some reasons why the baby may be at risk for developing a hearing loss later in childhood include:

  • A history of hearing loss that began in childhood in one or more close relatives
  • The baby spent some time in the special care nursery
Refer - Well baby nursery

If the baby's screening result from the DPOAE is refer, then usually another screening test, the AABR, will be done before hospital discharge. If it is not possible to do the AABR before discharge, it will be done as soon as possible in a community centre.

Most babies who receive a refer result have perfectly normal hearing. If the baby has a slight cold, has some fluid or material in the ear canal, is fussy during the test, or if there was too much noise in the room where the baby was tested, a refer result is not unusual.

If the screening result from the AABR is refer, the baby will need a second AABR screen after about a month. If this AABR also gives a refer result then it is VERY IMPORTANT that the baby attend a detailed Hearing Assessment.

Refer - Special care nursery

Infants in the special care nursery who are at risk for permanent hearing impairment are screened using the AABR, whereas infants who are not at such risk are screened using the DPOAE.

If the result from the AABR screen is refer, the infant will be booked for a detailed hearing assessment.

If the result from the DPOAE screening done in the special care nursery is refer, then the infant will be screened using the AABR. If the result from the AABR is refer, the infant will need a hearing assessment.


In some cases the screening may not be completed before the infant is discharged from the hospital. The screening may have been attempted but could not be completed because of too much noise in the test area, or the infant was too restless.

In other cases, the screener may not have been able to access the infant before discharge. 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. 


If the baby does not pass the newborn hearing screening, it does not necessarily mean that the baby has a hearing loss. About 20 to 100 babies out of 1000 do not pass the screening test, however, only 1 to 3 out of 1000 actually have hearing loss (