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 the importance of having a hearing check for their baby.
Your baby will be offered a series of health checks in the first few weeks of life. One of these looks for hearing loss. The hearing screen will be offered as soon as possible after birth.
If it is not possible to have the screen while you and your baby are in hospital, you will be offered the hearing screen for your baby as an outpatient or at a local community location, soon after discharge from hospital.
About one to two babies out of every 1000 babies born will have a significant 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. By the time children say their first word they have been listening to the way we talk for about a year.
A trained hearing screener will carry out the screen when your baby is asleep or resting quietly. You are welcome to stay with your baby while the screen is being done. The screener will place small sensor pads on your baby’s head and play soft clicking sounds into the baby’s ears through an earphone. The sensor pads record your baby’s responses to the sounds. The screen usually does not unsettle the baby. The screen may take 10-20 minutes to complete.
As soon as the hearing screen is completed, the results will be explained to you and recorded in your baby’s Personal Health Record (Blue Book). If the results show that a repeat screen is required, it does not necessarily mean that your baby has a hearing loss. There may be other reasons for this result. The most common reason for a repeat screen being required is fluid or a blockage in your baby’s ear after the birth.
Hearing may not always remain the same over time. It is important to monitor your baby’s speech and language development as well as their responses to sound. You can refer to the checklist overleaf to monitor your child’s progress. If you are concerned about your child’s hearing or speech and language development in the future, please arrange to have your child’s hearing tested. Ask your family doctor for a referral to an appropriate service for your child’s hearing to be tested. Hearing can be tested at any age.
For health advice, contact healthdirect Australia, 1800 022 222.
For further information, please refer Kids and families.