Why should I have my baby’s hearing screened?

The first months and years of a baby’s life are very important for developing language. Undetected hearing loss is one of the causes of delayed oral language development.

My baby’s hearing was not screened in the hospital, how can I book an appointment?

Hearing screening is offered at a number of community clinics. If your child is under two months of age, please use our online booking tool here or call the Tri-Regional Infant Hearing Program at 1-888-703-5437 ext 4.

What do I need to do to prepare for the hearing screen?

For the best chance for a successful hearing screen:

  • Try to bring the baby sleeping in the car seat or stroller
  • Feed the baby just before arriving for the appointment to encourage sleep
  • Do not put any creams or oils on the baby’s head
  • Bring baby’s health card, extra diapers, and any comfort items that might help to calm the baby
Will the screening process hurt my baby?

No. The screening process is quick, simple and safe.

What do the results from the hearing screen mean?

Babies will receive a “pass” or a “refer” result. Those who receive a “refer” result will require further testing with an audiologist. Babies with no risk factors who receive a “pass” result will be discharged from the program. Some babies will “pass” but have certain risk factors for hearing loss and will be referred to our surveillance program for follow-up to monitor their hearing in the future.

If my child is referred for further testing, what is the next step?

The Infant Hearing Program (IHP) will refer you to one of the IHP audiologists for an assessment. They will contact you to schedule an appointment.

What do I need to do before the audiology appointment?

Most assessments can be completed in one visit, but it may take two to three sessions to complete a hearing assessment.

If your baby is under 6 months of age:

  • He/she should be asleep for the testing. We recommend that you keep your baby awake for a few hours prior to the assessment and feed your baby just prior to the testing
  • Do not put creams or oils on your baby’s head
  • If your baby is over 6 months of age:
    • He/she should be awake for the testing and ready to play
    • Bring a favourite quiet toy or snacks to help keep your baby in a good mood or with distraction, if necessary.
What happens after the IHP Audiologist identifies a baby with a hearing loss?

Referrals will be arranged for:

  • An Ear, Nose and Throat specialist.
  • An Infant Hearing Program Family Support Worker.
  • A Speech-Language Pathologist and/or American Sign Language Consultant
I am not sure if my child (over the age of 6 months) has a hearing loss or a speech and language problem. What should I do?

Talk to your family doctor about your concerns and request a referral to an audiologist for a hearing assessment or locate a local audiologist through the College of Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologist of Ontario website at www.caslpo.com. Contact your local Preschool Speech and Language Program based on the area where you live:

I have concerns about my preschool (from 0 to 4 years) child’s speech and language development. What should I do?
How is the hearing screen performed?

A sleepy baby is needed to ensure an accurate result is obtained. A soft tip will be put in your baby’s ear and, if needed, some stickers will be put on your baby’s head. These will record either the ear and/or the brain’s response to some sounds. The test is very reliable, takes only a few minutes and won’t hurt your baby. The results are available right away. If you are unsure about having your baby’s hearing screened, please call our booking line at 1-888-703-5437 ext 4 so we can answer any questions you might have.

What does the risk factor screen look for?

This test will look for an infection called cytomegalovirus (or CMV) which can cause hearing loss in newborns. Most babies with this infection won’t have any symptoms at birth but we check their hearing and then monitor them during their first few years if they have a positive result.

The test will also look for some common genetic risk factors. Babies who inherit the same risk factor from both parents will have a positive result. They usually don’t have anyone with hearing loss in their family. These babies have a higher chance of hearing loss in early childhood. This test may also pick up babies who inherit a risk factor from only one parent but you won’t be contacted with this kind of result since it does not cause hearing loss.

Can my midwife or family physician do the hearing screen at my next appointment?

The infant hearing screen can only be completed through the Infant Hearing Program. Your doctor or midwife will not have the necessary equipment to complete the test.

Will my baby need to have extra bloodwork done for the risk factor screen?

No. The blood used for the risk factor screen uses the same sample taken for the Newborn Screen (heel prick) in the hospital or by your midwife around 24 hours of age. No additional blood is needed in order to complete the risk factor screen.