Frequently Asked Questions


What if my baby is over the age of 2 months?

It is very important that screening takes place while the baby is still a “newborn”. Over the age of 2 months, babies can no longer be screened by the Infant Hearing Program.

If you have a child over the age of 2 months and you worry about their hearing, please see the child’s doctor for follow up. If your child’s doctor (or Primary Care Provider) has specific concerns about their hearing, they can send a referral to CHEO Audiology by using this form.


Where can I get more information about the extra testing done with the newborn blood spot?

When your baby was born, the hospital or midwife took a blood sample from your baby’s foot. This “heel prick” test was for the newborn blood spot screening through Newborn Screening Ontario (NSO). It is now possible to use this same sample to look for a few more risks for hearing loss. We will not take any other blood from your baby.

With this blood sample, NSO and the Infant Hearing Program can screen for Congenital Cytomegalovirus (cCMV) and some genetic markers. Babies with cCMV usually show no signs of this virus when born but could develop a hearing loss later on. Babies with some common genetic markers usually have no family history of hearing loss.

When we contact you to set up your baby’s appointment, we will explain these extra tests. You can ask questions and let us know if you would like to go ahead with this second part of the screening.

Visit the Newborn Screening Ontario website for more information on the program and our partnership.


Where can I get my baby’s hearing screened?

Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Centre (PQCHC) is home to the Infant Hearing Program of Eastern Ontario.

We serve families from:

  • Ottawa
  • Renfrew County
  • United Counties of Prescott and Russell
  • United Counties of Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry

We have locations throughout these regions and will do our best to find a time and location that work for you.


How to prepare for my baby’s appointment?

Your baby must be sleeping to complete this test.

  • Feed your baby and change their diaper before leaving home.
  • If your baby falls asleep on your way, leave them in their stroller, car seat or infant carrier when you bring them into the building.
  • Do not use lotion or oil on your baby’s head or behind their ears on the day of the screening.
  • Bring your baby’s Ontario Health Card Number or the temporary paper OHIP form.
  • Bring blankets and any other items to calm your baby as well as extra diapers and clothes.


How will you know if my baby can hear?

The tests we use are reliable, quick and give results right away. They do not hurt and are not harmful to the baby.

We place a small earpiece in the baby’s ear. The equipment will play soft sounds and then will measure the ear or the brain’s response to those sounds. We may also use stickers placed on your baby’s forehead and behind each ear, but this isn’t always needed.

At the end of the test, the machine will say:

  • “Pass” meaning baby’s hearing is normal, or
  • “Refer” meaning we don’t know and we need to try again.

If your baby passes the screening, it means that their hearing is normal at the time of screening. We will discharge them from the Infant Hearing Program and we don’t need to see them again.

It’s important to remember that hearing can change. You will need to pay attention to baby’s hearing and speech and language development.

Speak to your child’s doctor or Primary Care Provider if you worry about your baby’s hearing or speech and language.

They may refer your child for an audiology assessment.


What if my baby does not pass the hearing screening?

There are two different tests a screener may use when screening your baby.

If your baby does not pass one type of test, we may try another test. We may need to ask you to come back on a different day to try again.

If your baby still does not pass, we will send them to an audiologist. Audiologists have the training and equipment to complete a full hearing assessment.


What if my baby does have a permanent hearing loss?

The Infant Hearing Program of Eastern Ontario (IHP) has many great partners.

We work with local hospitals and community providers:

  • CHEO Audiology
  • Centre Jules Leger
  • Sir James Whitney
  • Silent Voice (American Sign Language (ASL) consultants)
  • Consultants in Langue des Signes Québécoise (LSQ)

The IHP helps children see audiologists for assessment and assistive technology. We can help them learn to communicate using sign language (ASL or LSQ) or spoken language (AVTa).

Our Family Support Worker can answer your questions. They can also give you information and connect you to many services.


My baby passed the hearing screening when they were born but now I’m worried.  What can I do?

My baby is under 2 months of age

Parents or legal guardians can call (613) 688-3979 ext. 3453 /toll-free 1-866-432-7447 to book an appointment. We will screen eligible babies at a community clinic.

My baby is over 2 months of age

We can no longer screen your baby under the Infant Hearing Program. If you worry about their hearing, please see the child’s Primary Care Provider (doctor) for follow up.

Primary Care Providers (doctors) can send a referral to CHEO using the Audiology Referral Form.