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Mater Healthy Hearing Program

“Providing a neonatal hearing assessment service to Mater Mothers’ Hospitals and the Queensland community”

In Australia, around one to two in every 1000 babies born each year has a significant, permanent hearing loss.

Any type of hearing loss, even a mild loss, can cause delays in speech and language development if left untreated. This then impacts on the child's ability to interact socially and at school. Early detection and appropriate management can significantly reduce the impact of hearing loss, giving the child the best chance of developing normal speech and language.

How do you test young babies?

The hearing screen occurs while the baby is asleep. The tests are quite safe and painless for the baby. The results are available immediately.
The tests are:

  • AABR - an automated screening test that provides information about the baby's hearing system for each ear. A "Pass" or 'Refer" result is obtained. This takes about 2-10 minutes.
  • Diagnostic ABR and OAE testing - computerised tests that provide more detailed information about the baby’s hearing system for each ear. These tests are performed by an Audiologist.

What does a PASS result mean?

  • A PASS result indicates that the baby hears at levels required for normal speech and language development at the time of the screen.

What if my baby doesn’t pass a screening test?

  • If a Refer result is obtained on either ear on the first screen, the screen will be repeated.
  • If a Refer result is obtained on the second screen, a diagnostic ABR is arranged.

If your baby does not pass, it does not necessarily mean they have a permanent hearing problem, just that they need a follow up assessment, which we will arrange with you.

What if my baby misses their screening test at birth?

An outpatient appointment will be offered to those babies that do not undergo a screen while in hospital.

Is all hearing loss permanent?

No, there are different types of hearing loss, including:

  • Conductive Hearing Loss
    • very common in children
    • may be just a brief episode associated with a cold, or it may be a long-term problem
    • medical treatment is effective for many children with conductive hearing loss.
  • Sensorineural Hearing Loss
    • previously called ‘nerve deafness’, this type may range from mild to profound, but cannot be corrected surgically.
    • any sensorineural hearing loss, even of a mild degree, can contribute to speech and language delays.

Hearing aids can be of benefit, and are provided to all children free of charge through Australian Hearing. Ongoing care is available at Mater Health Services.

Some children may even benefit from a cochlear implant, a procedure performed at Mater  for both non-insured and insured patients.

How to access our services

Which babies can be tested under the Mater Healthy Hearing Program?

  • all babies born at Mater Mothers' Hospitals are offered a free hearing screen shortly after birth through the Healthy Hearing program.

Which babies have a high risk of developing a hearing loss?

Babies with a high risk of developing a hearing loss may have:

  • a family history of permanent childhood hearing loss
  • syndromes associated with hearing loss (e.g. Down Syndrome)
  • prolonged ventilation
  • bacterial meningitis
  • severe asphyxia at birth
  • malformations of the ears, head or neck (e.g. cleft palate, external ear abnormalities)
  • severe jaundice
  • maternal infection during pregnancy (e.g. rubella, CMV, TORCH, syphilis).

When do you test the babies?

Babies can be tested as early as a few hours after birth.

What costs are involved?

Fees are dependant on your health insurance status. Please telephone the services for more information.

How do I arrange to have my babies hearing tested?

If you are concerned about your baby's hearing, even if they passed the newborn screen, a hearing assessment can be arranged for your child through the Health & Wellness Clinic


Mater Healthy Hearing Program is based on level 7 of Mater Mothers' Hospital.


Parking is available—please refer to the campus map.

Contact Us

If you have any questions or need further information, please contact Mater Healthy Hearing Program:

Telephone 07 3163 1923
Facsimile 07 3163 8184

Mater Audiology Department
Mater Health Services
Cnr Raymond Tce & Stanley St
South Brisbane Qld 4101

Office hours are 8 am to 4:30 pm Monday to Friday.

Healthy Hearing Resources and Information