|Infant Hearing Program|
Every year in Ontario, 3-4 babies out of every 1000 births are diagnosed as deaf or hard of hearing. The Infant Hearing Program is a province wide universal newborn hearing screening program that was launched in 2002. The program was designed to provide all newborns the opportunity to have their hearing screened.
The first months and years of a baby’s life are crucial to timely development of language. Undetected hearing loss can lead to delays in language development as well as later behavioural and academic difficulties. Early identification of hearing loss through Ontario’s Infant Hearing Program allows babies and families to receive support services and the assistance required to help their child develop language.
Download the Ontario Infant Hearing Program Brochure "Can Your Baby Hear?"
Hearing screening for new babies
Most infants will have their hearing screened in hospital prior to going home. The first screening is quick and simple. The machine used for the screening is called a DPOAE -Distortion Product Otoacoustic Emission. A very small earphone is placed in the baby’s ear and soft sounds are played through it. The ear’s response to these sounds is measured and recorded. The screening takes just a few minutes and results are obtained immediately. A refer result in hospital does not necessarily mean that your baby has a permanent hearing loss. Slight noise in the room, ear wax, fidgeting, a slight cold or stuffiness may be the reason for a refer result. To be certain a second screening must be completed.
The second screening uses different equipment. The AABR-Automated Auditory Brainstem Response is used. Again a small earphone that produces soft sounds is placed in your baby’s ear. Three small pads will be placed on the baby’s forehead and behind the ears to measure the brain’s response to these sounds. A computer will analyse the response and display the result. This test is quick, safe and reliable.
A very small number of babies will receive a refer result from this second screening. These babies will need another AABR screening once they go home from the hospital. In order to ensure accurate results from this screening it is important to wait one to two weeks to allow any fluid or wax in the ears to clear. The follow-up screening will be arranged by your local Infant Hearing Program administrator at a community based location. It is very important to make and keep this appointment. If you do not receive a call to book this follow up appointment please contact us (click this link).
Is my baby at risk?
Some infants may be identified as at risk for a hearing loss even though they have passed the initial newborn hearing screening.
It is very important to have your baby’s hearing re-screened if they are identified at risk. Do not assume that a pass at the initial screening is adequate, hearing loss can develop after infancy. It is important to identify hearing loss early in order to adequately support language development and learning.
Be aware of signs of hearing loss; refer to the ages and stages of normal hearing development .
Normal Hearing Development
Click on the following links for information on normal hearing development.
Eligibility & Referral
The Infant Hearing Program will screen any baby upon parent request until he or she is four months old.
For children between 4 months and 24 months of age who may have a risk factor for permanent childhood hearing loss the service provider in your community can provide assistance in completing a referral for a hearing screening.
For children over the age of 2 years to receive Program Services the child must be identified with a permanent childhood hearing loss by a provincially trained Infant Hearing Program Audiologist.
All of the children in Niagara eligible for services from the Infant Hearing Program must be registered with the Lead Agency at Early Words in Hamilton.
Speech Services Niagara can provide you with the locations of Infant Hearing Program Audiologists within the Niagara Region.
Once children are admitted to the Infant Hearing Program, they may access the following services until discharge:
o Audiology assessments and hearing aid management provided by a trained audiologist
o Communication services to support language and early literacy
o Family support services to provide guidance and assistance in accessing community resources.
Early Words 116 Upper Paradise Road, Unit # 6
Phone: 905-385-7927, ext. 227 or 1-866-826-4327, ext. 227
Hamilton Health Sciences Audiology Department
Infant Hearing Program www.gov.on.ca/children/english/programs/beststart/hearing
My Baby’s Hearing http://www.babyhearing.org/
Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing http://www.agbell.org/
Canadian Hearing Society http://www.chs.ca/
Mount Sinai Hospital www.mountsinai.on.ca/care/infant-hearing-program
Ontario Regional Infant Hearing Program/Preschool Speech and Language Websites