NHSP - Frequently Asked Questions

NHSP - Frequently Asked Questions

Many parents may have questions about their baby’s hearing screening test. This page shows some common questions asked by parents.

What tests do the Public Health Nurses do at the baby's 9-month follow-up?

Since the Newborn Hearing Screening Program was introduced in Cork University Maternity Hospital in April 2011 the distraction hearing test is no longer routinely carried out at the 9-month developmental check.

If you are concerned that your baby is not hearing normally please mention this to your Public Health Nurse or family doctor and they will refer you to the Audiology clinic in St. Finbarrs Hospital.

 My baby was screened at birth and had clear responses, but I now have concerns about whether they can hear normally. What should I do?

Contact your general practitioner (family doctor) or public health nurse who will be able to arrange for your baby/child to have a hearing assessment.

 Will screening be painful for my baby?

No. It does not hurt and is not uncomfortable. The screening test will usually be done while your baby is asleep and is very quick.

 How quickly should screening take place and what should I do if my baby is missed?

The screening should take place before you are discharged from Cork University Maternity Hospital (screening can occur within a few hours of birth). If screening hasn't taken place before you and your baby were discharged you will be given an outpatient appointment to take home with you or be contacted soon after with the appointment details.

If you think your baby may have been missed completely, then speak to your public health nurse or general practitioner (family doctor) who will put you in touch with the Newborn Hearing Screening Programme.

 Are there any risks in using the equipment? If so, what are they?

All the equipment is safe. The screener will explain how the equipment works and show it to the parent prior to screening.

 How common are hearing problems in babies with Down syndrome?

Hearing problems can occur in over 50% of babies with Down syndrome so it's really important that they have their hearing checked especially as they are prone to "glue ear" which means the baby can have a hearing loss that fluctuates. There is more information regarding this on the Down Syndrome Ireland (DSI) Association's website.

 Why is consent required for Newborn Hearing Screening when it is not required for other more invasive procedures? Who normally provides that consent?

Consent is required for the Newborn Hearing Screen as the screen is being offered and parents can make a choice about whether they would like their baby's hearing screened.
Other procedures that may occur are treatments or interventions that are necessary for the baby's care. In most instances, the Mother provide this consent as the baby is screened within the maternity hospital. Fathers can give consent providing they have "parental responsibility" as defined by the Children Act 1989.

 Can high-volume music or other noises have an adverse effect on an infant's hearing?

Excessive noise can damage the ear and ultimately cause hearing loss. The sounds used in the equipment for Newborn Hearing Screening are much quieter and will not cause the baby any harm.

 Does the screen detect very mild hearing loss?

The screen is designed to pick up moderate or worse hearing loss. It will not necessarily pick up mild losses and that is why it is important that parents continue to monitor their child's hearing. If at any stage a parent is concerned about their child's hearing they should see their public health nurse or general practitioner (family doctor).

 If my baby has confirmed hearing loss in one ear will this affect his development and are there any operations to repair hearing loss?

If your baby does not get a clear response in one or both ears from the screen you will be given an appointment to go to the Audiology Clinic (Hearing Clinic) at Cork University Hospital. An audiologist (a person who specialises in hearing) will do further hearing tests at the Audiology Clinic.
If the outcome of this assessment is that there is hearing impairment in one ear it depends on the cause and severity of the loss as to what treatment or intervention will be necessary.

The Audiologist will explain the results to you at the time and discuss with you what is best for your child.

My baby is 12 days old and had no clear responses in both ears, does this happen often or should I be worried?

Getting a "no clear response" from the screen doesn't necessarily mean that a baby has hearing loss, but it does mean that your baby needs his/her hearing looking at more carefully. If your baby has a "no clear response" from one or both ears when the screen is complete you will be given an appointment to attend the Audiology Clinic (Hearing Clinic) at St. Finbarrs Hospital where your baby's hearing will be assessed and the results will be discussed with you.