The NSW Statewide Infant Screening – Hearing (SWISH) Program aims to identify babies born with significant hearing loss and introduce them to appropriate services as soon as possible. This fact sheet is prepared for parents to explain why their baby requires a diagnostic assessment.

Last updated: 03 December 2019

If your baby did not get a clear result from the first two hearing screens, they will need a diagnostic assessment. There can be a number of reasons for this. It could be that: 

  • there was fluid or a blockage in your baby’s ear after the birth 
  • your baby may have some degree of hearing loss.

It is important to find out as soon as possible how well your baby hears so that you and your baby can get the correct advice and support. If you live more than 100km from the hospital you have been referred to, ask the person who gave you this brochure for information about the SWIS-H Travel Assistance Scheme.

What will happen at the diagnostic assessment?

A number of tests will be done to give detailed information about how your baby hears. An audiologist, who is a specialist in hearing testing, will carry out the tests. This assessment is free of charge. None of the tests will hurt your baby.

How do I prepare my baby for the assessment?

It is best if your baby sleeps during the tests. Because of this, it is helpful to arrive a little early to give yourself time to feed and settle your baby to sleep. If you have other children, please arrange to have someone mind them at home, so that you can stay with your baby throughout the assessment. The environment must be quiet. As the diagnostic assessment includes a range of tests, set aside the morning or afternoon depending on when your appointment has been scheduled. You may also like to bring a support person with you.

How is the diagnostic assessment done?

This diagnostic assessment is called the Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) test. Sensors similar to those used in the screen will be placed on your baby’s head. Sounds will be played through headphones to your baby. Your baby’s responses to the sounds are recorded. These responses show the softest sounds that your baby can hear.

What will happen after the assessment?  

The audiologist will be able to inform you of the results and explain what the results mean, usually on the same day. If your baby is found to have a hearing loss, you will be referred to specialist services at one of the three NSW children’s hospitals in NSW. A report will be sent to these services. A copy will also be sent to you, your local doctor and your baby’s paediatrician with your consent. The audiologist and the Social Worker will assist you to get the services and support that you and your baby may need. If your baby is found to have normal hearing but at a later stage you become concerned about your child’s hearing, speech or language development, please arrange to have your child’s hearing tested again. Talking to your family doctor is a good place to start. Hearing can be tested at any age.

For health advice, contact healthdirect Australia, 1800 022 222.

For further information, please refer Kids and families.​​​​​

Current as at: Tuesday 3 December 2019