Newborn hearing screening

Healthy Hearing baby screeningAll babies born in Queensland, including home births, can access a newborn hearing screening. The screen is part of Queensland Health’s newborn care services to ensure every child reaches optimum speech and language development. Ideally the hearing screen will be done in hospital, or within 1-2 weeks of birth.

Screening is free for babies eligible/or enrolled for an Australian Medicare card. Non-Medicare eligible families must have finalised payment in full for delivery and postnatal care for the baby to access the hearing screen.

Newborn screening hospitals

Contact your local maternity hospital for more information about screening your newborn while in hospital or to arrange an outpatient screening appointment. For home birthed babies, discuss referral to appropriate service with your midwife.

Outpatient screenings

If your baby was not born in Queensland but your family moved to Queensland shortly after the birth, your baby can be referred for a hearing screen by the screening team in their state of birth. You can also contact your local birthing hospital or Healthy Hearing head office team to arrange a screen.

What does the screening involve?

The non-invasive screening process is performed by a specialised trained nurse with a parent’s consent.

Several small pads are placed gently on your baby’s head and a soft earphone is lightly placed over each ear. Soft clicking sounds will then play into your baby’s ears and their responses to these sounds are recorded.  The result is known immediately and will be either a ‘pass’ or a ’refer’.

A PASS result indicates that your baby hears at levels required for normal speech and language development at the time of the screen, but hearing can change. It is important to monitor using the hearing and speech checklist in ‘Your baby’s hearing screen brochure’ and discuss any concerns with your GP.

If your baby receives a refer result, they will need to have a second screening test.  A ‘refer’ result can be caused by a number of things:

  • your baby was unsettled during the screen
  • there may have been background noise during the screen
  • your baby may have fluid or a temporary blockage in the ear after birth
    • a small number of babies may have a temporary or permanent hearing loss. The degree of loss can vary from mild through to profound.

If the second test also returns a refer result, they will be referred to an audiologist for further tests.  Our brochure ‘Your baby’s audiology hearing test’ explains why your baby has been referred and the next steps.

The screening nurse will record the results in your baby’s Personal Health Record. Ask questions if there is anything you are not sure of.

A small number of babies may pass the screen, but have known risk factors for types of hearing loss which take longer to appear. If this is the case, your baby will be offered a hearing test with an audiologist sometime before their first birthday.

The timing of this test will depend on your child’s specific needs. While very few babies with these risk factors will develop a hearing loss, it is important to ensure your baby has their test.

Please note: If your baby is diagnosed with a hearing loss, the Healthy Hearing program provides additional services, including a medical investigation, support services and early intervention to help you and your child reach their full potential.

Atherton Hospital07 4091 0211
Ayr Hospital07 4783 0855
Bowen Hospital07 4786 8247
Cairns Base Hospital07 4226 0000
Cairns Private Hospital07 4052 5200
Charters Towers Hospital07 4787 0333
Cooktown Hospital07 4043 0100
Ingham Hospital07 4720 3000
Innisfail Hospital07 4016 1411
Mareeba Hospital07 4092 9333
Mackay Base Hospital07 4885 6000
Mater Private Hospital, Townsville07 4722 8867
Moranbah Hospital07 4941 4600
Mt Isa Hospital07 4744 4444
Palm Island (Joyce Palmer Health Service)07 4752 5100
Proserpine Hospital07 4813 9400
Thursday Island Hospital07 4069 0200
The Townsville Hospital07 4433 2995
Tully Hospital07 4068 4144
Biloela Hospital07 4992 7000
Buderim Private Hospital07 3068 2385
Bundaberg Hospital07 4303 8410
Caboolture Hospital07 5433 8629
Capricorn Coast Community Health07 4913 3000
Emerald Hospital07 4987 9523
Gladstone Hospital07 4976 3528
Gympie Hospital07 5489 8724
Hervey Bay Hospital07 4325 6820
Longreach Hospital07 4658 4740
Mater Private Hospital, Rockhampton07 4931 3380
North West Private Hospital07 3353 7825
Redcliffe Hospital07 3883 7508
Rockhampton Hospital07 4920 6288
Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital07 3646 1484
Sunshine Coast University Hospital07 5202 3799
Wesley Private Hospital Brisbane07 3232 7256
Woorabinda Community Health07 4913 2800
Beaudesert Hospital07 5541 9170
Charleville Hospital07 4650 5000
Dalby Hospital07 4669 0525
Gold Coast University Hospital (Public)07 5687 3508
Gold Coast University Private Hospital07 5530 0726
Goondiwindi Hospital07 4671 6666
Greenslopes Private Hospital07 3394 7900
Ipswich Hospital07 3810 1134
John Flynn Private Hospital, Gold Coast07 5598 9040
Kingaroy Hospital07 4162 9292
Logan Hospital07 3299 9153
Mater Mother’s Public Hospital07 3163 8892
Mater Mother’s Private Hospital, South Brisbane07 3163 8892
Mater Private Hospital, Redlands07 3163 7343
Pindara Private Hospital, Gold Coast07 5588 9401
Redland Hospital07 3488 3444
Roma Hospital07 4624 2736
St Andrew’s Private Hospital, Ipswich07 3816 9360
St George Hospital07 4620 2222
St Vincent’s Private Hospital, Toowoomba07 4690 4131
Stanthorpe Hospital07 4681 5201
Sunnybank Private Hospital07 3344 9308
Toowoomba Hospital07 4616 6208
Warwick Hospital07 4660 3831