Newborn hearing tests
On this page
- The first few months and years of your child’s life are very important for learning to talk.
- Finding and helping children with hearing loss when they are young is very important.
- They can give them a better chance of learning to talk and understand what people say to them.
- We provide a special hearing test for your baby while they are asleep or resting.
- This test is called a ‘newborn hearing screen’.
- All newborn babies in Tasmania can have this free hearing test.
What happens during the test
- The test usually takes place in hospital.
- If the test doesn’t happen in hospital, we will make an outpatient appointment for you.
- The test takes about 10-20 minutes.
- The doctor may run the test twice.
- The doctor will give you the results at the end of the test.
- The results are recorded in your baby’s Personal Health Record book.
How the test works
- Your baby must be asleep or resting.
- We use special technology to test your baby’s hearing. This is called Automated ABR (AABR).
- The AABR runs thousands of click sounds.
- We review how your baby respond to these sounds.
Reasons your baby may not pass the test
- They were under 12 hours old.
- They had a temporary blockage in their ear canal or middle ear.
- They were unsettled or noisy during the test.
- They have some level of permanent or temporary hearing loss.
- There was a background noise or electrical interference during the test.
What happens if your baby doesn’t pass the test
- The next step is for your baby to have a full hearing test. This is called a ‘diagnostic’ test.
- Diagnostic testing can also show normal hearing or a short-term temporary loss.
- The test can take between 20-minutes and 2 hours.
- The testing is performed by a special hearing doctor called an ‘audiologist’.
What happens during the diagnostic test
- The audiologist measures your baby's response to a range of sounds while they are asleep.
- These responses are picked up from your baby's hearing nerve by sticky pads.
- The sticky pads are placed on your baby's head.
- None of these tests will hurt your baby.
- Placing the sticky pads can wake a sleeping baby. Please delay feeding and sleeping until the test.
- Once the sticky pads are in place you can settle your baby to sleep. We allow plenty of time.
- The audiologist will tell you the results and what they mean. This usually happens straight away.
Frequently asked questions
The audiologist will refer you to specialist doctors for treatment and management.
- If your baby is under 12 months, please contact us for an appointment.
- If your baby is over 12 months, please speak to your doctor. They can write and ask us to review your child’s hearing. This is called a ‘referral’.