The SWISH (State Wide Infant Screening Hearing) Programme:
About two in every one thousand babies has significant hearing loss. The hearing screening test means they can be identified early. Early recognition is really important for the development of children.
It is almost always done before leaving the hospital (unless you leave very early). All babies greater than 34 weeks gestation are usually tested within 24 – 72 hours of birth.
What is involved
The screening tools used in Australia are currently the transient evoked otoacoustic emissions test and the automated auditory brainstem response.
A trained hearing screener carries out the test. A small soft earpiece is placed over the baby’s ear, which send clicking sounds down the ear. When the ear receives sound, the inner part of the ear, the cochlea, usually produces an echo. The screening equipment picks up this response.
The test only takes a few minutes and will not hurt your baby in any way. It is usually done while your baby is asleep or at least settled. You can stay with your baby while the test is being carried out.
You will get the results straight away. They will be written in your baby’s Personal Health Record (the blue book).
If your baby passes the test then it is unlikely that there would be any hearing loss.
If you baby doesn’t have a clear pass of the test then the baby will need to have a second test. Things that might interfere with the test are
- The presence of fluid in the ear canal (could be amniotic fluid)
- Baby too unsettled
- Vernix in the ear – sometimes a bath may be recommended before having the test again.
If a pass is not obtained in either ear at the follow up screen, the audiologist will see your baby as soon as possible. If one ear passes then the audiologist will see you at two to three months of age, or sooner if possible.
If you have any questions about the newborn hearing test, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Midwife & Lactation Consultant