Newborn Hearing Test

Authored by , Reviewed by Dr Louise Newson | Last edited | Certified by The Information Standard

Your baby will be offered a hearing test in the first few weeks. This is a very quick test and does not cause the baby any pain.

This is usually done before you leave hospital, but can also be done at home or in a special clinic if not. It takes only a few minutes and you will get the result straight afterwards.

Hearing loss in babies is uncommon, only affecting around one to two babies in every thousand.

The test most commonly undertaken is the Automated Otoacoustic Emission (AOAE) screening test. It is very commonly done in the first day or so of birth. The test involves a technician placing a very soft probe into your baby's ears which is connected to a machine. This shows how well your baby is hearing.

If this test is not normal then this does not necessarily mean that your baby cannot hear. Your baby will be offered a more specialised test, which is the Automated Auditory Brainstem Response (AABR) test at a later date. This test involves placing three small sensors, together with headphones, on to your baby's head. The headphones are placed over your baby's ears. The machine measures how well the sounds travel along your baby's hearing nerve pathways from their ear to their brainstem.

If your baby spent more than 48 hours in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) or special care baby unit (SCBU) then they may be offered the two different hearing tests.

Further reading and references

  • ; NHS Choices

  • ; NI Direct Government Services

  • ; NHS Scotland, 2017

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