Newborn screening

Hearing screens

A hearing screen is one of the routine health checks babies have soon after birth and while still at the hospital. It is quick, free and the results are available straight away. Early identification of babies with hearing loss is very important for their development. The Victorian Infant Hearing Screening Program (VIHSP) aims to find out as early as possible whether a baby has any hearing loss.

A VIHSP hearing screen can be done up to six months after your baby is born but younger is better.

Pass result

Your baby showed a clear response to sound in both ears on their VIHSP hearing screen. Some babies who receive this result may still be at risk of hearing loss. A follow-up appointment with an audiologist is recommended at 8-12 months of age if your baby has been affected by any of the following risk factors:

  • a close relative (child’s parent or sibling) with a congenital hearing impairment
  • any concern you have about your child’s hearing
  • a significant head injury
  • neurodegenerative disorder
  • a syndrome known to be related to hearing loss such as Down Syndrome
  • congenital abnormality of the head and neck
  • meningitis/encephalitis
  • congenital infections during pregnancy, e.g. Toxoplasmosis, Rubella, CMV
  • has been on a ventilator for more than five days in a row
  • aminoglycoside antibiotics (e.g. gentamicin) administered for three days or more
  • jaundice that has required exchange transfusion.

Refer result

If your baby was given a refer result at the VIHSP hearing screen it means that your baby did not show a clear response to sound. VIHSP will get in contact with you to arrange an audiology assessment for your baby. Your Maternal and Child Health nurse will check that you have an appointment made and, if not, can help to arrange one.

Vision screening

Early detection of vision problems is important as many can be prevented or treated. If you are concerned about your child's vision or if you have a family history of vision problems please talk with your Maternal and Child Health nurse or your doctor.

There are two vision checks that children should have:

  • one after their birth while they are still at the hospital, and
  • one when they are around three-and-half years old.

After the birth of your baby and while you are still at the hospital a paediatrician or other qualified health professional will shine a light into your baby's eyes and perform what is called a red reflex test.

If you are not sure whether this test has been done you can check with the hospital where your baby was born or ask your Maternal and Child Health nurse.

Three-and-a-half year old screening

At your child's 10th Maternal and Child Health Service visit, at 3 and a half years of age, they will be given a vision test called the Melbourne Initial Screening Test (MIST).

It is important to note that this a screening tool and not a diagnostic test. Your child will be referred for further testing if they are unable to complete this screening.