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Ontario Infant Hearing Program

Changes coming to the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening process of the Ontario Infant Hearing Program

Changes will improve equity for families and support greater administrative efficiency. The Universal Newborn Hearing Screening (UNHS) changes will be implemented on March 4, 2024.

What can you expect when your baby is born?

  • UNHS takes place in the hospital pre-discharge or the community. If a community screener leaves a message for you, please call back within 5 days of the birth of your baby.
  • For screening in the community, you will receive a call soon after the birth of your child to:
    • Gain parent/guardian consent for both hearing screening and risk factor screening in a single combined consent. Consent to UNHS or decline UNHS.
    • If you consent to UNHS, then a community screening appointment will be booked within the first 8 weeks following your child’s birth.
  • IHP hearing screeners will enter screening information electronically and there is automatic transmission of consent and demographic data to Newborn Screening Ontario (NSO).
  • If you have not been contacted by 2 weeks from the date of birth, please call 1.877.818.8255 or 519.663.0273.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Where can I find more information about the Infant Hearing Program?


What is IHP risk factor screening?

The screening of your infant’s heel prick blood spot or saliva sample allows for earlier and more accurate identification of infants with risk factors for permanent hearing loss. The screening is completed by NSO.

What is hearing screening?

A hearing screening determines whether an infant under the age of 8 weeks needs more hearing testing by an IHP Audiologist. The hearing screening is completed by a trained IHP screener either in the birth hospital or in the community.

What does combined consent mean?

Parents/guardians will have the option to consent to UNHS which will include both the physiological hearing screening and risk factor screening. Only one answer (yes or no) will be required. Consent to both components or decline both components.

Is my information secure?

Your information is protected by Ontario privacy legislation, so it’s kept secure. Only authorized users with valid Broader Public Sector Secure credentials can access information regarding screening results.

Please direct any questions about this change to Stacy McDougall, Manager of the Infant Hearing Program. She can be contacted at 519.685.8700 ext. 53469.

Universal newborn hearing screening takes place in the hospital pre-discharge, or in the community. If your baby is over 4 weeks old and you have not been contacted to book a hearing screening, please call
1-877-818-8255 or 519-663-0273.

The Ontario Infant Hearing Program (IHP) is a province-wide program of the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services designed to:

  • identify all infants with permanent hearing impairment;
  • give parents the information they need to make timely, informed decisions; and
  • provide the services necessary to maximize family communication and language development, important for developing reading skills and school success.

The first months and years of a baby's life are critical for developing language. Most children can hear right from birth. They learn to talk by imitating the sounds around them and the voices of their parents and caregivers. But that's not true for every child.

Every year in Ontario, nearly four in 1,000 babies are born deaf or hard of hearing. More lose their hearing later as they grow. Many of these children may need to learn speech and language differently, so it's important to detect hearing loss as early as possible.

The Infant Hearing Program was announced in the Ontario Government’s 2000 Budget and was implemented in 2002. It builds on previously introduced government programs designed to give children a better start in life, including the Preschool Speech and Language Initiative.

The Infant Hearing Program Southwest Region is one of 12 provincially funded infant hearing initiatives. It provides its' many services and supports to families and children who reside in the counties of: Bruce, Elgin, Grey, Huron, Lambton, Middlesex, Oxford and Perth.

Services Provided by the Infant Hearing Program

The IHP provides:

  • Universal newborn hearing screening
  • Re-screening of high-risk infants (‘surveillance’)
  • Audiological assessment for infants identified with a ‘refer’ result from the screening
  • Referral for medical assessment for those identified with a permanent hearing impairment
  • Information and support for families (Social Worker / Family Support Worker) for those identified with permanent hearing impairment
  • Amplification (i.e. hearing instrument) prescription and verification
  • Service options to enhance language development

Southwest Region Infant Hearing Program Contacts

The Thames Valley Children's Centre administers the Infant Hearing Program for the Southwest region.
For further information contact: 519-663-0273 or 1-877-818-8255


Why is it important to have your baby’s hearing screened?

It is very important to find out if your baby has hearing loss. Undetected hearing loss can cause delays in your baby's speech development. This can lead to behavioural and emotional problems and, later on, to problems in school.

The sooner hearing loss is identified, the better. There are many services available to help children with hearing loss. Finding out early means that your child can get the help they need right away. This gives them the same chance to develop language skills as hearing children.


There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in.  ~Deepak Chopra