Screening and Diagnosis Infant hearing screening

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.

Why screen early?

Because hearing loss may not be obvious in the first few weeks of life, screening is the first step to identifying and diagnosing hearing loss in babies. Without a screening program, a baby with a hearing loss is often not diagnosed until at least one year of age, sometimes up to three years of age. This is past the critical period for speech and language development. These children are at a much higher risk of language, social and academic delays and impairments later in life.

Early identification of a hearing loss means a child can begin early intervention and have access to language as early as possible. It also means that families can get appropriate advice and support right from the beginning, giving babies with a hearing loss the best start in life.

The Victorian Infant Hearing Screening Program (VIHSP)

The Victorian Infant Hearing Screening Program (VIHSP) screens the hearing of all Victorian newborn babies in their first few weeks of life. The program aims to find out as early as possible whether a baby has a hearing loss. The screen is performed by trained hearing screeners using valid and reliable technology and is usually carried out at the baby's bedside in hospital while they are asleep.

See the Related Links on the left of the screen for more on newborn hearing screening in Victoria.

What does the screen involve?

Press play on the screen below to view a short video demonstrating infant hearing screening.  *Note - this video has no sound.


Screening results

As soon as the screen is completed, the parent/guardian will receive one of the following results for their baby:

Pass –a clear response was obtained to sound made in the baby’s ears. It is very unlikely that the baby currently has a hearing loss that would affect early speech or language development.

Repeat – there was not a clear response to sound on the first screen. Another hearing screen will be arranged.

Refer – a clear response to sound was not recorded during two hearing screens. Further hearing testing is recommended. A VIHSP coordinator will contact the family to arrange an audiology appointment.