The NHS newborn hearing screening programme is a nationwide service and aims to identify moderate, severe and profound deafness in newborn babies. All parents are automatically offered a hearing screen for their baby shortly after birth.
Although the incidence of hearing loss is relatively small (one to two babies in every 1000 births), profound deafness and hearing impairment can have a huge impact on a child’s language and communication development. Early identification, via this programme ensures appropriate support can be put in place for babies and parents at a very early stage.
The newborn hearing screening team here at Blackpool has been up and running since May 2005 and our service covers all babies born within the Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre area providing a seven-day-week service.
Our team consists of three hearing screeners and one screening co-ordinator and we are based in the Women’s Unit at Blackpool Victoria Hospital. The newborn hearing screen is usually done on the post-natal wards and neonatal department before the baby leaves hospital, but we also provide an outpatient service to screen any home births and any babies discharged before their hearing screen is completed. Our aim is to complete all babies hearing screens before they are four weeks of age.
The hearing screeners perform one or both of the following screening methods:
- OAE: Oto-acoustic emission test
- AABR: automated auditory brainstem response
Both of which are painless and the parents can stay with their baby throughout the process.
Any babies who fail to show a clear response to the screen are then referred to the audiology department at Blackpool Victoria Hospital for a full diagnostic assessment within four weeks of screen referral. Therefore, any babies with a hearing loss can be identified before they are two months of age and support pathways put in place.
Further information can be found at www.hearing.screening.nhs.uk
Enquiries can be made to the newborn hearing screening team on 01253 956518