The expanded hearing screen includes two parts:
- the hearing screen that happens in a hospital or community-based setting (performed by Ontario Infant Hearing Program hearing screeners) and
- the hearing loss risk factor blood spot screen (performed by Newborn Screening Ontario).
The blood spot screen for hearing loss risk factors uses the same dried blood spot taken for the newborn blood spot screening program. The main risk factors are congenital cytomegalovirus (cCMV) infection and inherited predisposition to hearing loss. Children with these risk factors may be deaf at birth or may develop hearing loss early in life (before the age of 6 years).
Starting in Spring 2018, parents will be offered the opportunity through expanded hearing screening to have their baby screened for cCMV. The hearing loss risk factor blood spot screen will be performed with consent when there has been an Infant Hearing Program recommendation that the baby see an audiologist for a hearing assessment.