Why is the infant hearing screen so important?
4 in 1,000 babies in Ontario will have a hearing loss at birth or before the age of five.
A permanent hearing loss can cause delays in your baby’s language development, lead to behavioural and emotional challenges, as well as problems in school. When a hearing loss is found early, it gives your baby the best start in life, providing them with the support they need to learn to communicate.
How to get your baby’s hearing screened?
Hearing screens are offered at certain birthing hospitals across the Northeast. If your baby did not have their hearing screened in hospital, or your baby requires a follow up hearing screen, you will be contacted to schedule this appointment in the community.
Midwives and birthing hospitals are responsible for sending us your contact information. If you do not hear from us within 2 weeks after the birth of your baby, call us at 705-522-6655 ext. 8631 to make sure we have received your referral.
It is best to have your baby screened before they are 1 month old. This screening can only be completed on babies 8 weeks old and under.
The screening is fast, free, and reliable and it does not hurt your baby in any way.
Infant hearing screens are offered in Sudbury, Espanola, Little Current, Sault Ste Marie, Wawa, Dubreiville, Manitouwadge, Hornepayne, Elliot Lake, Blind River, Timmins, Kapuskasing, Hearst, Iroquois Falls, Kirkland Lake, New Liskeard, North Bay, Moose Factory, and Attawapiskat.
You will be contacted by the community clinic nearest you.
How to prepare for your baby’s hearing screen
To prepare your baby for the hearing screen:
- avoid putting lotion on your baby’s head or behind their ears on the day of the screen
- feed your baby just before the appointment
- be prepared to feed your baby during the appointment
- bring your baby sleeping or resting quietly in a car seat
When you go for the screen, do not forget to bring:
- baby’s Ontario health card number (if available)
- a blanket and other items to calm your baby
- be prepared to feed baby in the appointment if necessary
- extra diapers and clothes
How the hearing screening works
A soft tip is placed in your baby’s ear and if needed, small stickers are placed on your baby’s head. The screen will measure your baby’s ears or brain’s response to soft sounds played in their ear.
The test is quick, reliable and will not hurt your baby. There’s no fee for the test and you will get the results right away.
What to do if your baby has missed their newborn hearing screen?
The newborn hearing screening is the standard of care in Ontario.
Some parents might choose to not have their babies hearing screened. For these families, it will be very important that parents monitor their child’s development and watch for signs of hearing loss.
Please visit this link to monitor if your child is meeting their developmental milestones.
If they are not meeting one or more of these milestones, please contact our Preschool Speech and Language Program at 1-877-522-6655 or by calling locally 705-522-6655.
It is important to monitor your child’s hearing. Hearing loss can be difficult for parents and physicians to detect in young children. If you have concerns in regards to your child’s hearing, follow up with your family doctor. You may need to remind them that your child did not get their hearing screening at the time of their birth.
Some potential indicators of hearing loss in an infant or toddler might include:
- Does not react to loud sounds
- Does not seek out or detect where sound is coming from
- Has stopped babbling and experimenting with making sounds
- Still babbles but is not moving to more understandable speech
- Does not react to voices, even when being held
What to expect if your baby has hearing loss
If your baby is identified with a permanent hearing loss, our Infant Hearing Program audiologist will help you understand what supports and services are available.
This could include:
- how the hearing loss may affect your baby
- how technology may help your baby hear
- what services and support are available to help your baby
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