Newborn hearing screening | Te Whatu Ora | Health New Zealand | Hauora a Toi Bay of Plenty

Newborn hearing screening

Newborn hearing screening programme

Newborn hearing screening checks whether a baby hears well. All babies can have their hearing screened free of charge.

Research has found that if hearing loss is detected early, interventions will improve a child's ability to develop language, to learn and develop social skills.

Māori and Pacific babies and children are more likely to have a hearing loss than other babies and children in New Zealand.

Screening for hearing loss is strongly recommended for all newborn babies.

A baby may have screening before leaving the hospital. At the latest, screening should be finished by the time baby is one month old.

The hearing test

The test itself is simple and safe, and it won't cause your baby any discomfort. It just takes a few minutes. Most babies will pass the newborn hearing test, which means that at the time of screening they are unlikely to have a hearing loss.

If a clear response is unable to be obtained and the result of screening is 'refer', ideally baby should have diagnostic audiology testing by three months and, if a hearing loss is found, intervention can start by six months.

Helping baby

If a baby does have a hearing loss, the help the baby and parent will be offered depends on the baby's hearing levels.

It might include 

  • support and education about hearing loss and helping your child to learn 
  • information on devices such as hearing aids and cochlear implants 
  • different ways of communicating, like sign language
  • genetic counselling. 
If there are any concerns

If a parent is worried about their baby's ability to hear at any time, talk to the Lead Maternity Carer, GP, Well Child provider or early childhood teacher. Even if a baby passes the newborn hearing screening, they could still develop a hearing loss later. It's never too late to discuss any concerns.

Related information/resources