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Newborn Hearing Screening

All babies in the Manchester area are offered a hearing screen when they are born. Babies who do not get a clear response during this screen are seen by our service to find out more about their hearing. We are able to test for all types of hearing problems in babies using tests such as auditory brainstem response testing, otoacoustic emissions and tympanometry.  See our Glossary for descriptions of these tests.

Auditory brainstem response testing and otoacoustic emissions testing require your child to be asleep as the response to be detected is very small and can be hidden if there is a lot of movement.

If a baby gets a clear response on the hearing screen it means they are unlikely to have hearing loss. However, a small number of children can develop or acquire a hearing loss later on in childhood, so if you or anyone else is concerned about their hearing, it is important to get it checked.

Paediatric Hearing Assessment Clinics

There are a number of reasons why a child may have been asked to attend for a hearing test:

  • They did not have clear responses in both the right and left ears on the hearing screen.
  • There is concern about their hearing.
  • There is concern about their speech and language or general development.
  • Your child needs another hearing test following their hearing screen at birth.
  • Your child may have had many ear infections or colds.
  • There may be a family history of hearing problems.
  • Your child may have had an illness that can cause hearing problems.

Children of any age are seen for hearing assessment using a wide variety of techniques including otoacoustic emission testing, visual reinforcement audiometry, play audiometry, tympanometry and speech testing.  See our Glossary for descriptions of these tests.

How can I get an appointment?

If your baby has been referred from the newborn hearing screen, you will automatically receive an appointment.

If you have concerns about your child’s hearing you can go to your family doctor or health visitor and ask them to refer your child for a hearing test.

If you are new to the area and your child has a known hearing loss and wears hearing aids, you should ask for your family doctor to refer to us so that we can continue to monitor your child’s hearing and progress with hearing aids.

How long will I have to wait for an appointment?

You will be offered an appointment for your child within six weeks of us receiving the referral.  We aim to find out what your child can hear as quickly as possible. Often we can do this in just one appointment but sometimes it takes a number of appointments before we can get all the information we need.

What will happen when I have my appointment?

At the first appointment we will test your child’s hearing. We will explain the results with you and talk about what they mean for your child and their development.

If your child has a hearing loss we will talk about the options that are available and how they can help. We will then agree the next step with you and set a care plan. This will include your child’s specific needs and what we have agreed to do to address them. Sometimes we can decide to monitor your child’s hearing and progress. Sometimes we need to do something to help your child hear better and this can include having a small operation (grommets) or wearing a hearing aid. We may also talk about using sign language to help your child communicate. The options available will depend on your child and the cause of the hearing loss.

You will always receive a letter after your appointment with us. This summarises what you told us at the appointment, the test results and what they mean and the plan that we agreed for you and your child. We copy this letter to your family doctor, your health visitor or your child’s school nurse and to any other people your child sees.

We offer appointments at both Manchester Royal Infirmary and Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. If you receive an appointment from us, it is important to check the appointment letter for details of where the appointment is.

Can I bring my child’s siblings to the appointment?

It is always best to try and make alternative arrangements for your child’s siblings.  To test the hearing we need the test room to be very quiet and to have as few distractions as possible.  If you cannot arrange for anyone to look after your other children we will try our best to ensure everything runs smoothly.

What do I do if my child is ill on the day of the appointment?

If you child is unwell, please phone the department and let us know as early as possible.  We can then change the date of the appointment for you.

What if my child has a hearing loss?

If your child has a hearing loss we will discuss the best ways to help your child with their hearing.  We will also carry out further testing as needed to get as much information as possible about your child’s hearing.