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Newborn hearing screening

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The newborn hearing screening is a test given to newborns to check their hearing before they leave the hospital. 

The test is typically conducted within the first few days of life and involves measuring the baby's response to sounds.

It’s not uncommon for newborns to fail the hearing screening. A failed hearing screening can be caused by a number of factors
Q: What happens if my newborn fails (also known as having a refer’ result) the hearing screening?

A: If your newborn fails the hearing screening, it doesn't necessarily mean they have a permanent hearing loss. Sometimes babies can fail the screening due to fluid in the ear or other temporary issues. 

If your newborn does not pass the initial hearing screening further assessment will be recommended to determine whether a permanent hearing loss does in fact exist. 

It is important to follow the recommendations from the newborn hearing screening team regarding further assessment.

Q: What are the possible causes of a failed hearing screening?

A: A failed hearing screening can be caused by a number of factors, including fluid in the ear post-birth, having an inherited or genetic hearing loss. 

A permanent hearing loss will also result in a failed screening.

Q: What is the next step if my newborn fails the hearing screening?

A: If your newborn does not pass the initial hearing screening then it will be recommended that your child undergo further testing through Child and Youth Health. This may occur in a Child and Youth Health clinic, or you may be referred to the Women’s and Children’s hospital. 

This may also involve more extensive, but non invasive hearing tests, which will confirm whether there is any permanent hearing loss. The tests will check the severity of the loss, as well as whether any fluid in the ears is impacting results.

Q: What are the treatment options if my newborn is diagnosed with hearing loss?

A: Treatment options for hearing loss in newborns can vary depending on the severity and type of hearing loss. Some options include hearing aids or cochlear implants.

Children with hearing loss can also benefit from spoken language intervention programs, speech therapy and/or training in Auslan (Sign language) to help the child develop communication skills.

All intervention options are discussed with you following diagnosis of a hearing loss.

Q: Is it common for newborns to fail the hearing screening?

A: It is not uncommon for newborns to fail their hearing screening.

Q: Can hearing loss in newborns be prevented?

A: In some cases, hearing loss in newborns can be prevented. For example, avoiding exposure to particular diseases during pregnancy, such as CMV or Rubella. 

Some Hearing loss in newborns is caused by genetic factors which cannot be prevented. If you have a family history of permanent hearing loss from childhood genetic counselling prior to getting pregnant is one way to reduce the chance of an inherited condition being transferred to your child.

Occasionally children are born with a congenital (from birth) hearing loss for which no known cause can be found. In terms of how best to reduce the risk of hearing loss in your baby it is best to consult with your obstetrician, or GP.

Q: How can I support my newborn if they have a hearing loss?

A: If your newborn has a hearing loss, there are many resources available to support you and your family. This may include early intervention programs like the ones at Can:Do 4Kids, support groups, and other services to help your child develop communication skills and reach their full potential. These services will be discussed with you when your child has been diagnosed with a hearing loss.

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When you have a child with hearing, vision or other developmental challenges, it can feel overwhelming – especially given all the new information, health professionals, and appointments and tests to cope with.

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