In Australia, over 300 babies are born with hearing loss each year. While there can be many reasons why a newborn doesn’t pass their in-hospital hearing screening, all babies who receive a “refer” result require further investigation.

The main test a specialist paediatric audiologist will perform at this follow-up appointment is called an Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) test – a safe and painless diagnostic assessment.

During an ABR, the audiologist places small headphones and electrodes – little sticky tabs – on the baby’s head, to record responses from the baby’s hearing nerve. Clicking sounds and tones go through the headphones, and the tabs record tiny responses from your baby’s hearing nerves.

ABR testing takes around two to three hours and can only be performed while the baby is sleep – not always an easy feat for a newborn!

With almost 30 years’ experience working with children, Hear and Say’s audiologists outline their top tips below for families to get the most from of their ABR appointment:

New Born Having Hearing Screen

Tips for ABR appointments

  • Keep your baby awake prior to the appointment.
  • Delay your baby’s feed until you arrive. Hear and Say allocates a private room and lots of time in the appointment for you to feed and settle your baby.
  • If possible, try not to let your baby fall asleep in the car on the way to the appointment.
  • Avoid using moisturisers or oils on the day of the test, so that the tabs on the electrodes can stick to your baby’s skin.
  • Testing conditions need to be very quiet, and the appointment can go for up to three hours. If you have other children, we kindly ask that you arrange to leave them with a suitable carer during this time.

It’s of course still very common for babies to not sleep, or to only take a short nap during an appointment. Hear and Say’s experienced team is highly skilled at troubleshooting along the way.

We're here to support everyone in their hearing journey.

Get in touch to find out more.

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