About the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Programme

Your baby may have screening before leaving the hospital and at the latest, screening should be finished by the time baby is 1 month old.

Screening for hearing loss is strongly recommended for all newborn babies

Research tells us that if we find out a baby has a hearing loss early, we can begin interventions and improve a child's ability to develop language and to learn and develop social skills. Current information suggests that Maori and Pacific babies are more likely to have a hearing loss than other babies and children in New Zealand.

The hearing screening test

The test itself is simple and safe, won't cause your baby any discomfort. It just takes a few minutes of your time.

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 3 months and, if a hearing loss is found, intervention can start by 6 months.

Helping your baby

If your baby is found to have a hearing loss, the kind of help your baby and you will be offered depends on your 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 you have any concerns

If you are worried about your baby’s ability to hear at any time, talk to your Lead Maternity Carer, GP, Well Child provider or early childhood teacher.

Even if your baby passed newborn hearing screening, they could still develop a hearing loss later, and it’s never too late to discuss your concerns.

Monitoring the quality of the screening programme

The Universal Newborn Hearing Screening and Early Intervention Screening Programme (UNHSEIP) is monitored by the National Screening Unit to ensure that all aspects of the programme are working well and progress is being made on achieving the programme’s aims and goals. Expert groups and consumers work closely with the NSU.

Programme Quality Standards and Monitoring Reports can be found in the health professionals section of this website.

Further information about the programme is available from the UNHSEIP Programme Leader:

Email: Moira_McLeod@moh.govt.nz
Phone: (09) 580 9086

Page last updated: 01 December 2014