Newborn Hearing Screening Programme

What is the Newborn Hearing Screening Programme?

The NHS Newborn Hearing Screening Programme (NHSP) ensures all parents are offered hearing screening for their new child within the first few weeks of life. It is a core service within the NHS inEnglandand part of the family of Antenatal & Newborn Screening Programmes.

Why screen my babies hearing?

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

Where is my local Newborn Hearing Screening Programme?

Chester Newborn Hearing Screening Team is based in Cestrian Ward in the Maternity Unit at The Countess of Chester Hospital. We offer hearing screening to all babies born at the Countess of Chester Hospital. Our team consists of 5 newborn hearing screeners, one screening programme manager and one administrator. We currently screen approximately 3500 babies each year. We were delighted to receive an impressive average score of 4.16 (out of a maximum of 5) from an NHSP Quality Assurance Visit to our site in January 2009.

To view the NHSP QA report for Chesterand to compare it with other sites performance, see the NHSP website: http://hearing.screening.nhs.uk

How do I get a newborn hearing screen for my baby?

Your baby will be offered the hearing screen within the first few weeks of life. The hearing screen is usually done on the ward before you leave the maternity unit. For babies discharged before hearing screening has been completed or who miss hearing screening for any reason, we will offer an appointment at a community clinic. Appointments at community clinics are offered on the days and times listed below:

-        Thursday afternoons: The Countess of Chester Hospital

-        Friday mornings: Stanlaw Abbey Children's Centre

-        If parents are unable to attend the above clinics, there are some drop-in sessions available.

If necessary, please contact the Newborn Screening Team to arrange an appointment on 01244 363009.

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

What happens during the hearing screen?

This type of hearing testing is routinely used for infants under three months old as it does not require a response or co-operation from the child. Your baby will need to be settled or ideally asleep during the screening. There are two screening tests that are routinely carried out:

Screening Otoacoustic Emission (OAE) testing; a quick test lasting up to two minutes. A small tip is placed into the child's ear and plays a clicking noise at a quiet level. A healthy inner part of the ear will produce and echo if it detects a sound. A microphone in the ear tip picks up this response. The results are shown on the equipment display for the screener to see. A 'clear response' or 'no clear response' result will be recorded - this test does not give a level of hearing.

The ALGO 3i Newborn Hearing Screening Equipment is a portable, non invasive device for screening the hearing of infants between the ages of 34 weeks corrected gestational age and six months. Babies should be well enough for hospital discharge and should be asleep or in a quiet state at the time of screening.

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