Location: Northern Ireland
A new hearing screening programme has been launched at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital to make sure newborn babies are not missing out on vital hearing tests.
In the past, parents have been required to take their newborns for a hearing test at a community clinic within the first few weeks of their lives, but this isn't always the case, meaning that infants may be left struggling with undiagnosed hearing loss which could hinder their long-term development.
To prevent this from being the case in the future, the Worcester Observer reports that a new screening service has been launched at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital to make sure that newborn babies have their hearing tested before they are discharged from hospital.
This service will be on offer seven days a week, and when screeners are not available, parents will be provided with an appointment as soon as is possible for their baby to undergo a hearing test at their nearest GP surgery or hospital.
Speaking to the newspaper, Lorna Laird, countywide audiology services manager for Worcestershire, explained: "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.
"Permanent hearing loss can significantly affect a baby's development. Finding out early can give these babies a better chance of developing language, speech and communication skills."
She added that carrying out these hearing tests as early on as possible can also help to make sure parents or carers are able to properly bond with babies, communicating with them in different ways than through speech if problems are detected.
The test used to screen babies' hearing is known as Automated Otoacoustic Emission and involves clicking sounds being played into the infant's ear via an earpiece, which is able to detect responses in the cochlea. If none are recorded, this could be a sign that the infant is deaf and requires further hearing loss treatment.
Written by James Puckle
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