Hearing Screening


 Newborn Hearing Screening Programme


The newborn hearing screening test helps to identify babies who have permanent hearing loss as early as possible. This means parents can get the support and advice they need right from the start.

One to two babies in every 1,000 are born with permanent hearing loss in one or both ears. This increases to about 1 in every 100 babies who have spent more than 48 hours in intensive care. Most of these babies are born into families with no history of permanent hearing loss.

In some areas the hearing screen is done in hospital but here in Somerset it is done by your Health Visitor when your baby is between 10 and 14 days old.

The Screening process

The test is called the automated otoacoustic emission (AOAE) test. It takes just a few minutes. A small soft-tipped earpiece is placed in your baby's ear and gentle clicking sounds are played. When an ear receives sound, the inner part (called the cochlea) responds. This can be picked up by the screening equipment. It's not always possible to get clear responses from the first test.

In these cases your baby will be offered a second test. This the same as the first test, if the results is still do not show a clear response you will be offered a third test called the automated auditory brainstem response (AABR) test.

The AABR test involves placing three small sensors on your baby's head and neck. Soft headphones are placed over your baby's ears and gentle clicking sounds are played. This test takes between 5 and 15 minutes.

If the screening test results do not show a clear response from one or both of your baby's ears, an appointment will be made with a hearing specialist at an audiology clinic in Taunton or Bath.

Special Care Babies

In Somerset there are 2 special care baby units one at Yeovil District Hospital and the other at Musgrove Park Hospital,Taunton. Babies who are in the Neonatal Intensive Care units for more than 48 hours are screened in the unit before discharge and will have both the OAE and the AABR screen.

For more information including translations in other languages can be found on the following website. 


The contacts for Newborn Hearing in Somerset are:

Melanie Couch
Local Newborn Hearing Manager
Priory House
Priory Health Park
Glastonbury Road
Wells BA5 1XL

t: 01749 836558

Josie Barnett
Newborn Hearing Administrator
Audiology Department
Duchess Building Level 1
Musgrove Park Hospital
Taunton TA1 5DA

T: 01823 288641