In the UK all babies are offered an Automated Otoacoustic Emission (AOAE) hearing screening test within the first few weeks of life. The hearing screen is usually done before you leave the maternity unit. If your baby’s hearing has not been screened ask your health visitor or midwife or GP to arrange an appointment.
One to two babies in every 1000 are born with a hearing loss in one or both ears. This 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. The AOAE screening test takes only a few minutes. You can stay with your baby while the screening test is done and the results are given straight away. If the test shows a clear response then your baby is unlikely to have a hearing loss.
If the AOAE hearing screening test does not show a clear response and you are unable to have a second test on the same day then you will need to attend the Audiology Department for a repeat of the test.
Many babies need to have a second hearing screening as it is common for:
o Babies to be unsettled at the time of screening
o There to be too much background noise when the screening test is carried out
o Fluid in the ear after birth to cause a temporary blockage
As well as the AOAE hearing test, the Audiology Department is also able to offer an Automated Auditory Brainstem Response (AABR) hearing test. This can provide additional information about your baby’s hearing. This test usually takes place while the baby is asleep and can take between 10 and 30 minutes.
If these tests show a clear response then your baby is unlikely to have a hearing loss.
Most babies will record clear responses at the second screening test and at the further tests carried out by an audiologist. However, a small number will not and this means there is a possibility that the baby has a hearing loss. Nationally, about one in 25 babies whose second screening test does not record clear responses may have a hearing loss in one or both ears.
Finding out that your baby has a hearing loss early means that you and your baby will get advice and support right from the start.