Newborn hearing screening underway in Portiuncula

13 September 2013

Babies born at Portiuncula Hospital will now be given routine hearing screening as part of the rollout of a national programme.

The National Newborn Hearing Screening Programme began at Portiuncula Hospital on Tuesday, August 13 last.

This new service provides a routine hearing screening test to newborn babies, usually whilst they are still in the hospital. The test is a quick and simple way to check a newborn baby’s hearing.

Dr Frances Neenan, Consultant Paediatrician, said: “We welcome the development of the National Newborn Screening service in Portiuncula Hospital. This is an important test for newborn babies and will enable us to identify babies who have a hearing impairment at a very early stage. It is recognised that the earlier babies are diagnosed the sooner we can provide the additional support required for them and their families. Our aim is to ensure that all babies have a hearing test soon after birth to identify if there are any problems, and to reassure parents. I want to assure parents that this test is quick, simple and painless and that they can remain with their baby whilst the screening takes place.”

A very small number of babies will require further testing and any necessary follow up from the initial screens will be undertaken by the Audiology Services in UHG and Galway Community Services. This is a welcome initiative which will further enhance the services available to women, babies and families attending Portiuncula Hospital.

The screening test is usually done before the baby leaves the hospital. A trained hearing screener carries out the test. The screener places a small soft tipped earpiece in the outer part of the baby’s ear which sends clicking sounds down the ear. When an ear receives sound, the inner part, known as the cochlea, usually produces an echo. The screening equipment can pick up this echo. The screening test only takes a few minutes and does not hurt the baby.