On average, our newborn hearing screening team screen 6,000 new babies every year, born in Harrow, Ealing and Brent.
It’s only a small team of ten, but screening manager Tina Khayer explains: “A lot of our babies are born at neighbouring hospitals too, and where they aren’t able to carry out screening, we will offer them an outpatient’s appointment at one of the three clinics, depending on where they live.”
Statistically, one to two babies in every 1,000 births are born with permanent hearing loss in one or both ears. This number increases to around one in every 100 babies who have spent over 48 hours in the neonatal unit as babies that are high risk.
Newborns can experience hearing problems for a wide variety of reasons, including genetics, Down syndrome, maternal infections during pregnancy, complications at birth, other neurological syndromes or stressful births. Some hearing loss cause is unknown.
It can be difficult for parents to spot issues with their newborn’s hearing, which is why the screening service launched in 2002.
Tina recommends: “All parents should get their baby’s hearing screened by the team. The screening programme helps us to find babies who have hearing loss so that support and advice can be offered right from the start.
"Finding out early gives babies a better chance of developing language, speech and communication skills, as well as making sure their families receive the support they need."
Parents will get a booklet at their antenatal appointment, explaining everything about the hearing screening programme and what to expect.