Hearing Loss

Hearing Screening

There is a UK national hearing screening program that tests hearing in neonates along with the newborn blood spot and the newborn examination.

This involves special equipment that delivers sound to each eardrum individually and checks for a response.


Common Causes


  • Maternal rubella or cytomegalovirus infection during pregnancy
  • Genetic deafness (can be autosomal recessive or autosomal dominant)
  • Associated syndromes (e.g. Downs Syndrome)


  • Prematurity
  • Hypoxia during birth

After birth

  • Jaundice
  • Meningitis and encephalitis
  • Otitis media
  • Chemotherapy



Children with hearing difficulties may present with parental concerns about hearing or with behavioural changes associated with not being able to hear:

  • Ignoring calls or sounds
  • Frustration or bad behaviour
  • Poor speech and language development
  • Poor school performance



Younger children (<3 years) are tested by looking for a basic response to sound (i.e. turning to a sound).

Older children can be tested properly with headphones and specific tones and volumes.



  • Establishing the diagnosis is the first step
  • Hearing aids for children who retain some hearing
  • Support with language and learning (potentially requiring sign language and special schools or school facilities)
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