Why Does My Newborn Baby Need a Second Hearing Test?

If your newborn baby’s first hearing test doesn’t show a clear response from one or both ears, your baby will need a second screening test.

Baby-hearing-examThis happens with a lot of babies. It doesn’t necessarily mean your baby has hearing problems. Some common reasons for needing a second screening include:

  • your baby may have been unsettled when the first test was done
  • there may have been some background noise
  • your baby may have fluid or a temporary blockage in their ear after the birth. This is very common and passes with time

When will the second screening be done?

If you have your baby in hospital, your baby’s second hearing screening will usually be done before you leave. However, in some areas, it may be done at home or in a local clinic.

What does the second screening involve?

At the second screening, your baby may have the same test as they had in their first screening. This is called the automated otoacoustic emission (AOAE) hearing test.

At the second screening, your baby may also have another type of test, called the automated auditory brainstem response (AABR) screening test.

Read more information about how newborn hearing tests are performed.

What do the results mean?

If the second screening shows a clear response from both of your baby’s ears, your baby is unlikely to have hearing loss.

If the second screening doesn’t show a clear response from one or both of your baby’s ears, you’ll be referred to your local audiology department. This often happens at the second screening, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that your baby has hearing problems.

An audiologist (hearing specialist) will carry out more tests to measure your baby’s hearing. The audiologist will explain the test results to you and discuss with you what is best for your child. Read more about Your baby’s visit to the audiology clinic (PDF, 307Kb).

Most babies show clear responses to sound at the second screening and at the audiologist’s tests. However, it’s possible that your baby may have hearing loss.

Nationally (in the UK), about one in 25 babies whose second screening does not show clear responses may have hearing loss in one or both ears. Finding out early that your baby has hearing loss means that you and your baby can get advice and support.

Getting help

If you’re concerned about your child’s hearing, contact your health visitor or GP. A child’s hearing can be assessed at any age.

Read the answers to more questions about children’s health

Further information:

About the Author

NHS Choices (www.nhs.uk) is the UK’s biggest health website. It provides a comprehensive health information service to help put you in control of your healthcare.


6 Responses to “Why Does My Newborn Baby Need a Second Hearing Test?”

  1. Delores Lyon says:

    I think it is good that multiple hearing tests are given. It is important that parents know if their children have hearing problems from a young age. It seems like a second hearing test is just to affirm the first test’s results, which I think is a good thing for the hospitals to do. http://www.soundchoiceofabq.com/hearing-test

    • Stefanie Zucker Stefanie Zucker says:

      Agreed! The earlier you know, the more you can do to make a difference in your child’s life. Thanks Delores for the note! We appreciate your stopping by 🙂

  2. Mia Boyd says:

    Thanks for the article. I had no idea how important it is to get your hearing checked so regularly. It’s especially important for parents to know if their kids are struggling with hearing, just like you mentioned. I completely agree with the fact that there are ways that tests can go wrong, like if the baby’s ears are clogged, which is why it’s so important to get multiple tests. I’m going to make sure I get my kids checked! http://www.hearillinois.com/hearing-tests

    • Stefanie Zucker Stefanie Zucker says:

      Thanks so much for letting us know you found this helpful! btw – I didn’t know either until I read this, why a baby might need a second hearing test…and what a difference it could make catching problems early. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  3. Hazel Owens says:

    My children both passed their first hearing test after they were born, but I have a friend whose baby did not. They were worried that their child had hearing problems, but more tests at the audiologist’s office showed that the baby’s hearing was fine. It’s best to figure out early whether your baby has hearing problems, so don’t be afraid of going to the doctor and getting all the tests you need to make sure your baby has the best care. Thanks for the article.

    • Stefanie Zucker Stefanie Zucker says:

      Agreed! Not knowing has the potential to impact so many areas of your child’s life…and finding out early, there are so many things you can do to help your baby. Thanks so much Hazel!

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