Newborn hearing tests

Who are we?

The Newborn Hearing Screening Programme (NHSP) aims to find babies who have a hearing loss so that support and advice can be offered right from the start. NHSP offers all parents in England the opportunity to have their baby's hearing tested shortly after birth.

1 to 2 babies in every 1,000 are born with a permanent hearing loss in one or both ears. Most of these babies are born into families with no history of hearing loss. Permanent hearing loss can significantly affect a baby's development. Finding out early can give these babies a better chance of developing speech and language skills.

A Health Visitor or NHSP screener will offer to screen your baby within the first few weeks. The test can be done up to 3 months of age.

The test called the AOAE (automated otoacoustic emission) takes a few minutes and checks that the cochlea (inner ear) responds normally to sound. It is not always possible to get clear response from the first test. This does not necessarily mean your baby has a hearing loss. Your baby will be offered another test which may be the same as the first test, or another type called the AABR (automated auditory brainstem response) test. This test looks at the response of the hearing nerve to sounds.

You will be given your baby's results as soon as the hearing test is done.

If your baby has been in a special care baby unit for more than 48 hours, they will need to have the two types of hearing screening tests.

If there is not a clear response from one or both ears after the AABR test an appointment will be made with audiology to see a hearing specialist. Being sent for further test does not necessarily mean your baby has a hearing loss. A hearing specialist should see you within four weeks of having your baby's hearing screen.

Services we do not offer

We do not offer health visiting services such as advice on sleeping, bottle-feeding and baby development.

Frequently asked questions

What if my baby does not get a clear response from the screening tests?

It is not always possible to get clear responses from the the screening tests. This does not necessarily mean your baby has a hearing loss. It can mean:

  • Your baby was unsettled when the test was done
  • There was background noise
  • Your baby has fluid or a temporary blockage in their ear. This is very common and passes with time
  • Your baby has a hearing loss

If the screening test results do not show a clear response from one or both of your baby's ears an appointment will be made with audiology to see a hearing specialist. About 2-3 babies in every 100 do not show a clear response on the screening tests.

A hearing specialist should see you within four weeks of having your baby's hearing screen. It is very important that you attend the appointment in case your baby has a hearing loss.

 

Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) and our "Local Offer"

What is the Local Offer?

The local offer provides information for children and young people with special educational needs (SEND) and their parents or carers in a single place. You can find out more about information about this on our SEND reforms and Local Offers page.

Service Description

The Newborn Hearing Screening Programme aims to identify moderate, severe and profound deafness and hearing impairment in newborn babies. The programme offers all parents in England the opportunity to have their baby's hearing tested shortly after birth. Early identification, via the programme, gives babies a better 'life chance' of developing speech and language skills, and of making the most of social and emotional interaction from an early age.

What do you provide to children and young people with an additional need and or disability 0-25yrs?

The hearing screening test will allow those babies who do have a hearing loss to be identified early. Early identification is known 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.

Who can use our service? Age? Disability?

Newborns

How to access our service (inc. referral routes)

If your baby's hearing is not screened ask your midwife, health visitor, local audiology department or family doctor to arrange an appointment.

Babies can be screened up to 3 months of age.

When and where is our service available?

Your baby will be offered the hearing screening test within the first few weeks of life. In Shropshire the hearing screen is usually done at home or sometimes in a clinic setting. Your health visitor or a trained hearing screener carries out the hearing screening test.

How to find out about the service

Information about the tests, and how they work, can be found in the booklets given to parents antenatally and at birth:

  • Screening tests for you and your baby
  • Babies in special care units: screening tests for your baby

NHS Newborn Hearing Screening Programme Website

How can families contact the service?

  • Newborn Hearing Screening Programme
    Coral House
    11 Longbow Close
    Shrewsbury
    SY1 3GZ
    Tel: 01743 450800

For external agencies: is the service free or charged?

NHS

Is the service accredited? If so, by whom?

  • The NHS Screening Programme is part of Public Health England
  • The Community Trust is quality assured by the Care Quality Commission

How can families complain if they are not happy with the service?

All complaints are handled by our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) and Complaints teams.

 

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