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Your baby's hearing screening test

This leaflet explains:

• why we have offered your baby a hearing screening test;
• when and where we do the test;
• how the test is done; and
• what the results mean.

Version 11, October 2020
 

Contents

― Your baby’s hearing screening test
Why screen my baby’s hearing?
― When and where the test is done
― How we do the test
― The test result
― What the result means
― Using your information
 

 

 

This animation gives information on the hearing screening test that you will be offered for your baby once they are born.

 

 

Your baby’s hearing screening test

All babies are offered health checks in the first few weeks of their life. One of these checks is hearing screening. Tests used for hearing screening are quick and simple and will not harm your baby. Some babies need more than one test. You can choose whether or not your baby has hearing screening.
 

Why screen my baby’s hearing?

One or two babies in every 1000 are born with a hearing loss. Most of these babies will be born into families where no-one else has a hearing loss. It is not easy for parents to tell if a young baby has a hearing loss. Finding out early is important for your baby’s development. It also means that we can offer you support and information right from the start. Screening does not detect all hearing loss or prevent future hearing difficulties.
 

When and where the test is done

The test will usually be done in the first few weeks of your baby’s life. If your baby is born in hospital, we may offer you the test before you go home. If not, it can be done in the community, usually in a local clinic.
 

How we do the test

A trained screener will carry out the test. The screening test is done while your baby is settled or asleep. It will not hurt or harm your baby. The test only takes a few minutes. You can stay with your baby while the test is done.

One or both of the following tests will be used:

  • A small soft-tipped earpiece is put in the outer part of your baby’s ear. This makes a clicking sound. The equipment shows the screener how your baby’s ears are responding to the sound.

  • Three small sticky pads are put on your baby’s head and neck. Small headphones are put over your baby’s ears, which will make a clicking sound. The equipment shows the screener how your baby’s ears are responding to the sound.


 

The test result

The screener will tell you the result of the test straight-away, and explain if another test is needed.
 

What the result means

If there is a clear response from one or both of your baby’s ears it is unlikely that your baby has a hearing loss. The screener will give you information on how babies respond to sound as they grow and what to do if you have any worries about your baby’s hearing.

If only one of your baby’s ears shows a clear response, you may choose to have another hearing test. The screener will give you more information.

If neither of your baby’s ears shows a clear response, it does not necessarily mean your baby has a hearing loss.

Clear responses may not be seen if:

  • your baby is unsettled; there is fluid in the ear (from the birth); or
  • there is too much noise near the baby when the test is done.

We will offer you another hearing test. The screener will give you more information about the next test for your baby.

After these tests, about 1 or 2 in every 100 babies will need more tests with an audiologist (hearing specialist). These tests need to be done when a baby is still likely to sleep a lot during the day. The audiologist will send an appointment for this test within four weeks. This allows time for your baby’s hearing pathway to develop.

Waiting for another hearing test can be worrying. If you have any questions, you can contact the screening programme or speak to your health visitor.
 

Using your information

For us to contact you as part of the programme, we will need to handle some of your and your baby’s personal information. If you want more information, see the Public Health Wales privacy notice; email: PHW.InformationGovernance@wales.nhs.uk; or phone: 02920 104307.

We also keep your baby’s personal details to make sure that the standard of our service is as high as possible. This includes checking your baby’s records if your baby is found to have a hearing loss after having a screening test which showed a normal result.

You can find out more on the Newborn Hearing Screening Wales website.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions about Newborn Hearing Screening Wales, please email us through our website or phone us on one of the numbers below.

North Wales: 01978 727005 Mid and West Wales: 01792 343364 South East Wales: 029 21843568

If you have any concerns, please write to:

The Director of Screening Services

4th Floor, Capital Quarter

2 Tyndall Street

Cardiff,

CF10 4BZ

You can contact us in Welsh or English. It will take us the same amount of time to answer you, whichever language you choose.