Newborn Vision and Hearing Screening

All babies are checked at birth to see that all is well and some of these health checks are called 'screening'. Screening for hearing and some vision problems for your baby should occur at birth but if you have concerns about your baby's vision or hearing at any time, take your baby for an assessment.

If your baby does have a hearing or vision problem, finding it early is good for their learning and development.

What hearing checks are needed for babies?

Your child's hearing will be screened at birth as part of the Newborn Hearing Screening and Early Intervention Programme. The aim of New Zealand’s Universal Newborn Hearing Screening and Early Intervention Programme (UNHSEIP) is for ‘early identification of newborns with hearing loss so that they can access timely and appropriate interventions, inequalities are reduced and the outcomes for these children, their families and whanau, communities and society are improved’.

If your baby's hearing has not been screened, talk to your midwife or doctor so that the screening can be arranged.

If your baby passes the hearing screen, it means that at the time of the screen, your baby's hearing was good. It is still possible for some babies who pass their hearing screen to develop a hearing loss later. 

What does it mean if my baby needs repeat hearing screening?

Some babies may need a repeat screen because the earlier screening did not show a strong enough response in one or both ears. 

What vision checks are needed for babies?

Your child's eyes should be checked soon after birth for what is known as a ‘red reflex'. Children who have an abnormal reflex are referred to an eye doctor (ophthalmologist). Some very premature babies will have their eye’s examined when they are in the newborn unit.

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