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Why screen my baby's hearing?

One to two babies in every 1000 are born with a permanent hearing loss in one or both ears. The hearing screening test will allow those babies who do have a permanent hearing loss to be identified early.

Newborn Hearing Screening involves testing babies hearing within the first few weeks of life. It is now carried out across the country, which means that every baby born in England will have their hearing tested shortly after birth. Evidence suggests that the earlier a child's hearing impairment is identified and an appropriate intervention programme introduced, the greater the chances they will develop better speech and language skills and enjoy benefits in speech, social and emotional development . It also means that support and information can be provided to parents at an early stage.

Further information can be found here.

What will happen when my baby is screened?

There are two types of screen used. One is the Automated Oto-acoustic emission (AOAE) screen. This involves placing a small soft tipped ear-piece in the outer part of the baby's ear and playing quiet clicking sounds. In a hearing ear, the organ of hearing (the cochlea) should produce sounds in response, which can be recorded  using specialist software on a computer. The second type of hearing  screen involves placing small sensors on the baby's head and neck and then presenting a quiet clicking sound, through soft head-phones which are designed for babies. This is called the Automated Auditory Brainstem Response Test (AABR). Both screening methods usually only take a few minutes and can be done when the baby is asleep. The screening test does not hurt and is not uncomfortable for the baby. It will be carried out by a trained hearing screener.

For further information about newborn hearing screening see here.