Newborn Hearing Screening
The new born hearing screening programme helps identify babies who have permanent hearing loss as early as possible. This means parents can get the support and advice they need right from the start. One to two babies in every 1,000 are born with permanent hearing loss in one or both ears. This increases to about 1 in every 100 babies who have spent more than 48 hours in intensive care. Most of these babies are born into families with no history of permanent hearing loss.
Permanent hearing loss can significantly affect babies’ development. Finding out early can give these babies a better chance of developing language, speech, and communication skills. It’ll also help them make the most of relationships with their family or carers from an early age.
The hearing screen uses a quick simple test(s) to check the hearing of all new born babies. If you give birth in hospital, you may be offered a new born hearing test for your baby before you are discharged, otherwise it will be done by one of the New born Hearing Screeners within the first few weeks.
We aim to screen as many babies as possible whilst they are on the wards, but if this is not possible we will send a clinic appointment. It is really important to identify any problems with hearing immediately as the early involvement from the audiology team means your baby has the best outcome.
Parents are provided with a checklist in their Red Book on page 32 after a baby has had clear responses following the hearing screen. This identifies sounds a baby should be making and their reaction to sound at different stages of their development.
Parents are advised that hearing can change and children can acquire a hearing loss, such as glue ear, and they should speak to their GP or health visitor (HV) if they are concerned about their child’s hearing or speech in the future. A child’s hearing can be assessed at any age and parental concerns should always be treated seriously.
If your baby has not completed screening in hospital will be contacted by our new born hearing screening service to arrange a suitable time and venue and/or an appointment sent out to you in the post. Ideally, the test is done in the first 4 weeks for the best outcomes, but it can be done up to 6 months of age.
If your baby has not had their hearing screened, and you haven’t been offered a screening test, ask your health visitor or contact your local new born hearing screening service to have an appointment arranged.
For further information please contact your local New Born Hearing Screening Programme or alternatively you can find all of the New born Hearing Screening (English and translations) leaflets here.