Hearing Tests

Newborn Hearing Screening

One to two babies in every 1,000 are born with a hearing loss in one or both ears.

Early identification is known to be important for the development of the child. Identifying hearing loss early means the best support and information can be provided to the child and parents at an early stage, which usually leads to excellent outcomes.

Your baby will be offered the hearing screening test within the first few weeks of life. The hearing screen is usually carried out at home by your health visitor. If your baby's hearing is not screened ask your health visitor, or family doctor to arrange an appointment.

Babies admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care unit for more than 48 hours will have their hearing screened prior to discharge.

Useful documents: Making sounds checklist    Reaction to sounds checklist

Targeted 8 month follow up

At the time of your baby's hearing screening tests you will be asked a few questions about factors that may affect hearing, for example if another family member has a hearing loss.

Where possible risk factors for hearing loss are identified you may be offered a further check of your baby's hearing when they are around 8 months old. An appointment will be posted to you as your baby approaches the correct age for testing. This will be carried out either within the main hospital audiology department or at a convenient community hospital within the Exeter, East and Mid Devon area. At these appointments behavioural hearing tests are carried out, looking at how your baby responds to sounds.

Referral to audiology department 

If the second screening test does not show a clear response from one or both of your baby’s ears you will be referred to your local audiology department. They will carry out special tests to measure your baby’s hearing. Again, this often happens and does not necessarily mean your baby has a hearing loss.

Hearing test results

These will be discussed with you at the end of each appointment and any necessary arrangements for follow up visits discussed.

Parents and families may have many questions when they find out their baby has a hearing loss. Each baby's hearing loss will be different and your audiologist will be able explain the sounds your baby can hear and which sounds it may be difficult for them to hear. Parents react in many different ways when they first find out that their baby has a hearing loss and can experience a wide range of emotions. Whatever your feelings it is important that you acknowledge and share them. There are a variety of organisations that can provide support for you and your baby. You can ask your audiology department for further information about support in your local area or alternatively you can contact the National Deaf Children's Society Free phone Helpline on 0808 800 8880 (10am to 5pm Mon-Fri) or send an e-mail to helpline@ndcs.org.uk or visit the website ndcs.org.uk. Their experienced advisors can help answer any questions you may have and put you in touch with other parents with deaf children through a network of local support groups.

Further information about newborn hearing screening is available from:

NHS Newborn Hearing Screening