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Newborn Hearing
Your Baby’s Hearing Screening Test
For babies who have received special or intensive care
For more information, visit
Updated July 2013
Your Baby’s Hearing
Screening Test
Your baby will be offered
a series of routine
few weeks of life.
This will include a hearing
screening test. The test
uses two simple methods
to check the hearing
of newborn babies.
Why screen my
baby’s hearing?
About 1 in every 100 babies
who have spent at least two
whole days in a special care
baby unit, or a neonatal
intensive care unit, have
a hearing loss in one or
both ears. It is not easy
to identify that a young
baby has a hearing loss.
This hearing screening test
will allow those babies who
do have a hearing loss to
to be important for the
development of the child. It
also means that support and
information can be provided
to parents at an early stage.
Is there a risk my baby
may have a hearing loss?
There are some known
factors which may put
a baby at risk of having
a hearing loss.
These are listed below:
qBaby has needed
special or intensive
care in early infancy.
qSome medical conditions.
You can ask your
paediatrician for more
information about these.
qOther members of
baby’s family, including
grandparents, aunts
and uncles, have had a
hearing loss since birth
or very early childhood.
When and where does
the screening take place?
The screening test can usually
be done before your baby
leaves hospital. If this is not
possible, we will contact
you to let you know when
it could be carried out and
where it could be done,
subject to your consent.
If you are not offered a
screening test ask your
health visitor, local audiology
department or family doctor
to arrange an appointment.
Will the hearing
screening test be
painful for my baby?
No. It does not hurt and
is not uncomfortable.
The screen will usually
be done while your baby
is asleep or settled.
What does the hearing
screening test involve?
A trained hearing screener,
nursery nurse or audiologist
carries out the screening test.
There are two main ways of
screening babies’ hearing:
1) Automated Otoacoustic
Emissions (AOAE)
A small soft tipped earpiece
that is placed in the outer
part of your baby’s ear
sends clicking sounds
down the ear. When an ear
receives sound the inner
part, known as the cochlea,
usually produces a sound.
The screening equipment
can pick up this response.
2) Automated Auditory
Brainstem Response (AABR)
Small sensors are placed
on your baby’s head and
on the nape of the neck.
Soft headphones, specially
made for babies, are placed
over your baby’s ears and
a series of clicking sounds
are played. The hearing
screening equipment
measures how well your
baby’s ears respond to sound.
Both screening methods
are simple, completely safe
and painless. You can stay
with your baby throughout
the screening test. If your
baby is in the baby care
unit, and you are not always
able to visit in the daytime,
you may be offered the
option to have the screening
done in your absence.
When will I get the
results of the hearing
screening test?
If you attend the screening
test then the results will be
given to you immediately. If
you are not present at the
time of the screening test
then you will be given the
results shortly afterwards.
If you have any concerns or
questions about your baby’s
results contact the hospital
where the screening test
was done or, if your baby
was screened at home,
contact your health visitor.
What do the results
mean if the hearing
screening test shows a
clear response from both
of my baby’s ears?
of detecting hearing loss
early. Children can develop
or acquire a hearing loss later
on so it is important to check
your child’s hearing as they
grow up. After the hearing
screening test you will be
given two checklists. These
show the sort of sounds
your baby should react to
and make as they grow.
Further checks may be
arranged for your child
even when the screening
test shows clear responses.
If you have any concerns
about your child’s hearing,
discuss them with your health
visitor or family doctor. Your
child’s hearing can be
tested at any age.
This means that your baby is
unlikely to have a hearing
loss. The NHS Newborn
Hearing Screening
Programme is a
very reliable way
What do the results mean
if the hearing screening
test doesn’t show a clear
response from one or
both of my baby’s ears?
This often happens and
does not necessarily mean
that your baby has a
hearing loss. There are a
number of reasons why it
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your baby’s hearing:
qYour baby may have been
unsettled at the time
of the screening test.
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temporary blockage in
the ear after birth. This
is normal and will pass
after a short time.
qThere may have been
background noise
when the screening
test was carried out.
You will be asked to bring
your baby back to the
audiology clinic where
further tests will be carried
out to measure your
baby’s hearing. You will be
what this involves.
What is the likelihood
of my baby having
a hearing loss?
Most babies will record clear
responses to sound at the
screening tests, and at any
further tests carried out by
an audiologist. However,
there is a possibility that your
baby may have a hearing
loss. About one in every 100
who have spent at least two
whole days in intensive care
have a hearing loss. Finding
out that your baby has a
hearing loss early means
that you and your baby will
get appropriate advice and
support right from the start.
Where can I get
further information?
If you would like more
information about your
baby’s hearing screening test,
you can contact the hospital
that will carry out the test.
You can also speak to your
health visitor, midwife or
local audiology department
or visit the NHS Newborn
Hearing Screening
Programme website at:
For information and support
about your child's hearing,
contact the National Deaf
Children's Society Freephone
Helpline on 0808 800 8880
(10am to 5pm, Mon-Fri),
or send an email to:
[email protected]
or visit the website:
For more information about
your baby’s hearing screening test contact:
(c) Crown Copyright 2013
“My twins had their hearing screened before they were
discharged from intensive care. With them being early
you never know what problems they might have, but
the test put my mind at rest.”
(Mother of Curtis and Louis)
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