Infant Hearing - From early screening to early prevention

The Process: From early screening to early intervention

Newborn screened for hearing loss

A hearing screen is one of the routine health checks babies have soon after birth. It is a quick, simple and painless way to check the hearing of newborns. The screen is performed by trained hearing screeners using valid and reliable technology and is most often done at the baby’s bedside in the days after birth.


Baby referred to audiologist for further testing

If a clear response to sound is not obtained following two hearing screens, further hearing testing is recommended. A VIHSP coordinator will contact the family to arrange an audiology appointment.

Audiologist performs hearing test

The aim of hearing tests is to get a complete picture of the baby’s hearing. The Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) is the main test given to babies. It records the response to clicking sounds played through an earpiece placed inside the baby’s ear. This test can show the degree of hearing loss in both ears.




*Photo taken at the University of Melbourne Audiology Clinic (Department of Otolaryngology).

Tests confirm hearing loss

When a child is diagnosed with a permanent hearing loss, they are usually referred to Australian Hearing. In addition, all children diagnosed with a hearing loss need to be seen by either a paediatrician or Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist for further medical investigations. This referral may be arranged by the diagnosing audiologist, or by the Australian Hearing audiologist or in consultation with the child’s GP.



*Photo taken at the University of Melbourne Audiology Clinic (Department of Otolaryngology).

Early intervention - hearing aids and cochlear implants

Hearing devices help the baby learn to listen and communicate by amplifying sounds in their environment. Depending on the type and degree of hearing loss, a baby may be fitted with a:
• Hearing aid, or a
• Cochlear implant
Children who are diagnosed and start receiving early intervention before six months of age have been found to demonstrate better speech, language and learning skills than those diagnosed at a later age.

Early intervention services

Early Childhood Intervention Services help families understand more about their child’s hearing loss and learn ways they can help their child develop necessary language and communication skills. Early intervention practitioners are specially trained to help parents understand more about hearing loss and how to best support their child.



 *Photo courtesy of Taralye oral language centre in Victoria.


A hearing loss diagnosis affects the whole family. Parents, siblings and grandparents of a baby diagnosed with a hearing loss will experience a range of emotions and require different types of support. There are a range of professionals and organisations available to assist families of a child with a hearing loss.