In Australia, about one to two in every 1000 babies born each year have a significant, permanent hearing loss.
Left untreated, any type of hearing loss even if only mild, can cause delays in speech and language development. This may impact the child's ability to interact socially and at school.
Early detection and appropriate management can significantly reduce the impact of hearing loss, giving the child the best chance of developing normal speech and language.
All babies born at Mater Mothers’ Hospitals are offered a free hearing screen shortly after birth through the Mater Healthy Hearing Program. The program also tests any babies referred by their doctor.
Babies who have:
Babies are tested while asleep. The tests are safe and painless for the baby and results are available immediately.
The tests are:
A "pass" result indicates that the baby hears at levels required for normal speech and language development at the time of the screen.
If a "refer" result is obtained on either ear on the first screen, the screen will be repeated. If a "refer" result is obtained on the second screen, a diagnostic ABR is arranged.
If your baby does not pass, it does not necessarily mean they have a permanent hearing problem, just that they need a follow up assessment, which we will arrange with you.
An outpatient appointment will be offered to those babies that do not undergo a screen while in hospital.
No, there are different types of hearing loss.
Conductive hearing loss
Conductive hearing loss is very common in children. It may be just a brief episode associated with a cold, or it may be a long-term problem. Medical treatment is effective for many children with conductive hearing loss.
Sensorineural hearing loss
Previously called “nerve deafness”, sensorineural hearing loss may range from mild to profound, but cannot be corrected surgically. Any sensorineural hearing loss, even of a mild degree, can contribute to speech and language delays.
Hearing aids can be of benefit and are provided to all children free of charge through Australian Hearing. Some children may even benefit from a cochlear implant, a procedure performed at Mater Hospitals for both public and private patients.
If you are concerned about your baby's hearing, even if they passed the newborn screen, you can ask your doctor or paediatrician to send a detailed referral including your baby's name, date of birth, your address and contact phone number to Mater's Healthy Hearing Program.
Mater's Healthy Hearing Program is based on level 7, Mater Mothers' Hospitals, Raymond Terrace, South Brisbane.
If you have any questions or need further information, please contact our office:
Telephone: 07 3163 1923 or 07 3163 8685
Monday–Friday, 8.30 am–4.30 pm
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