This program includes universal newborn hearing screening,
high risk monitoring and services for children identified with a
permanent hearing loss in Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent

The first months and years of a baby’s life are critical for developing language. Every year in Ontario, nearly four in 1,000 babies are born deaf or hard of hearing. More lose their hearing later as they grow.  Many of these children may need to learn speech and language differently, so it’s important to detect hearing loss as early as possible.  Undetected hearing loss can cause delays in your baby’s learning to talk which can lead to behavioural, cognitive and emotional problems.

Children who are deaf or hard of hearing have a better chance of developing effective language skills when hearing loss is identified early and they receive the support they need.

The Infant Hearing Program provides:

Newborn Screening

There are two ways to screen a baby’s hearing.  From the baby’s point of view, they are both very simple. Most babies will sleep through the whole process.

All newborns can be screened up to two months of age.

Automated Otoacoustic emissions (OAE)

This test shows whether parts of the ear respond properly to sound.

How it works:

  1. A small earphone is placed in the baby’s ear.
  2. Soft sounds are played through the earphone.
  3. The ear’s response is measured and recorded.

Automated Auditory Brainstem Response (AABR)

This test checks how the brain responds to sound.

  1. A small earphone is placed in the baby’s ear.
  2. Three small sticky electrodes are placed on the forehead and behind the ears.
  3. Soft sounds are played through the earphone.
  4. The brain’s response is measured and recorded.

Checking if your baby is at higher risk for hearing loss

Babies with certain risks for hearing loss will be monitored. The same sample collected by the hospital or midwife for the newborn blood spot screening can be screened for:

  • Cytomegalovirus– babies usually show no symptoms at birth but hearing loss could develop later
  • Some common genetic risk factors– there is usually no family history of hearing loss

For more information, please visit:
ontario.ca/infanthearing

Audiology Services

Children identified as deaf or hard of hearing may also receive audiology services.  These services include:

  • Hearing tests  hearing tests are done if your child receives a refer result on the newborn hearing screening. An Infant Hearing Program audiologist will assess your child’s hearing.
  • Hearing technology fitting and management  an Infant Hearing Program audiologist will select and fit the hearing technology that will best meet your child’s needs.
Family Support
The Family Support Worker is available to assist your family.  This trained professional supports families of hearing loss in many ways, including

  • Providing counselling support
  • Helping you connect with services available for you, your child and family
  • Connecting you with other parents of children with hearing loss
  • Helping your family with transitions to childcare and school.
Communication Development Services

The Infant Hearing Program may also provide family-centered services that include:

  • An assessment of your child’s communication development
  • Professional guidance to help develop your child’s language skills
  • Parent education

Infant Hearing Services are provided by the following system partners:

Infant Hearing Screening Clinics

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