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Newborn hearing screening

Published on 20 June 2023

The Newborn Hearing Screening (NHHS) Programme aims to identify all children born with moderate to profound deafness. The programme supports appropriate assessment and help for children and their families.

We have a coordinating role in the provision of newborn screening programmes. Supporting the NHS boards and the national multidisciplinary groups, we also help develop specifications, protocols and guidance for the programmes to follow. This ensures consistency across the country. Finally, we assist in monitoring and evaluating the programmes.

Who gets newborn hearing screening?

One or two babies in every 1,000 are born with a hearing loss in one or both ears. Most of these babies are born into families with no experience or history of hearing loss.

How does it work?

The hearing screening test is a simple test that will be done within the first few weeks after a baby is born. The test looks for a clear response from both of a baby's ears.

The newborn hearing test is carried out by a trained health professional. It can be done in one of two ways, either:

  • a small, soft earpiece will be placed in the outer part of a baby’s ear
  • three small sensors will be placed on a baby’s head and neck, and a small, soft earpiece or headphone will be placed in or over the baby’s ear

A computer will then measure how well the ears respond to clicking sounds.

The test doesn’t hurt and isn’t uncomfortable. It’s very quick and often takes place while the baby's asleep.

If it's suspected that a baby has hearing loss, then clinical referral to a healthcare expert will occur.

Further information for health professionals:

Find screening standards relating to the programme on the NHS Healthcare Improvement Scotland website.

NSD contacts

NSD Screening

Please note that NSD does not directly provide medical services and we won't be able to answer queries about your own care or appointments. If you would like to discuss any aspects of your care, please contact your primary healthcare provider. This might be your GP, Consultant, Nurse or other healthcare professional. They will be best placed to give you the right advice. Please do not send any patient identifiable information, such as Date of Birth, CHI number or address to the above email address