Within a few days after birth, all babies in the UK are offered a test to screen for a hearing loss.

The newborn screening test

  • is part of a routine health check
  • will identify a hearing loss early
  • is painless and is not uncomfortable for your baby

If you are unaware of when and where the newborn screening test will take place, ask your doctor, midwife or health visitor. The test is usually done at the hospital or at your home.

The newborn screening test is conducted by a professional health visitor or a designated hearing screener when your baby is asleep or settled. You can stay with your baby throughout the test.

How the newborn screening test works

The newborn screening test is also known by health professionals as the automated acoustic emission screening test (or the AOAE screening test).

A small device is placed on the outer area of the baby’s ear. The device consists of a speaker and microphone.

The device makes clicking sounds. When an ear receives sound, a healthy cochlea usually produces an echo. The ear’s response to the clicking is recorded onto a computer.

The test takes a few minutes to complete.