BENGALURU: N ewborn babies and children are routinely checked for problems with their vision and hearing to identify any problems at an early stage in their development. Experts feel that although serious hearing and vision problems during childhood are rare, early testing ensures that any problem can be treated at the beginning stage.
“It is important that hearing problems are identified early because a child’s hearing is directly connected to their speech and language development. Their social and educational development also depends on their ability to see,” says Dr Akram, Consultant Paediatrician, Apollo Clinic, Bellandur.
Congenital and acquired hearing loss has been linked to lifelong deficits in speech and language acquisition, poor academic performance, personal-social maladjustments, and emotional difficulties
“Identification of hearing loss through neonatal hearing screening, followed by regular surveillance of developmental milestones, auditory skills, and middle-ear status and objective hearing screening of all infants and children at critical developmental stages and appropriate interventions can prevent or reduce many of these adverse consequences,” says Dr Narayanappa D, Professor and HOD, Paediatrics, JSS Medical College and Hospital, Mysuru.
Similarly, examination of the eyes should be performed during the early visits to the doctor just after birth. Visual acuity measurement should be performed at the earliest possible age that is practical (usually at approximately 3 years of age).
Early detection and prompt treatment of ocular disorders in children is important to avoid lifelong permanent visual impairment, say health experts.
WHAT SHOULD PARENTS LOOK FOR TO DETECT ANY AILMENTS?
Soon after a baby is born, if the baby does not pass hearing and vision tests, they should be referred to an audiologist and ophthalmologist for further tests.
From birth to the first year, a baby’s hearing should have certain behavioral characteristics. They should jump on loud noises, notice sudden and prolonged sounds, get excited on hearing familiar voices and respond to his or her name.