HEARING problems in newborn babies will now be able to be diagnosed and treated earlier with the launch of a new hearing screen at Worcestershire Royal Hospital.
The newborn hearing screen service was previously carried out by health visitors in babies’ homes or at community clinics in the first few weeks after birth.
Now, the new service, which will begin on Monday (April 10), will be run seven days a week by a dedicated team of screening staff at the Worcestershire Royal.
Where screeners aren’t available prior to discharge an appointment will be offered at the nearest hospital or GP surgery to the baby’s home as soon as possible.
The test, called the Automated Otoacoustic Emission, sees a small soft-tipped earpiece placed in the baby’s ear and gentle clicking sounds are then played.
When an ear receives sound, the inner part, called the cochlea, responds and this can be picked up by the screening equipment.
Lorna Laird, Countywide Audiology Services Manager, said: “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.
“It will also help babies make the most of relationships with their family or carers from an early age.”