State govt mulls over auditory screening at birth
BENGALURU : Four-year-old Bhavishna is very chatty, just like many other kids her age. She wears a hearing device that is conspicuous. When she was born at Command Hospital, Cambridge Layout, her doctors were able to immediately detect that she had a hearing impairment. This, because the hospital has a mandatory hearing screening for newborns.
Rashmi Nataraj, an audiologist at the hospital, says, “In Bhavishna's case, we were able to give her a hearing aid within three months of her birth. Before this, she had to undergo three stages of tests. Out of 100 babies that we screen per month, at least two have hearing defects.”
She adds that there are many cases of hearing impairment at birth in several hospitals in the city, but many of these do not screen for hearing impairment at birth. “Early detection is key. It makes it easier to treat such impairments. If left untreated, children become permanently deaf as adults,” she adds. According to a survey by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO), at least 33 lakh in the state suffer from hearing impairment, and half of them are children.
‘Plan to follow Kerala’s system’
According to a plan by the state government, newborn babies throughout the state may need to compulsorily get a 'Universal Newborn Hearing Screening' done as intervention to detect check hearing impairments early on. Speaking with CE, Pankaj Kumar Pandey, commissioner, Heath Department, says, “Kerala already has a screening system in place. We are thinking on similar lines.
We want to make screenings mandatory. It will require consultation with other departments and the plan is under consideration.” Brett Lee, Global Hearing Ambassador for Cochlear, that makes hearing implants, who was present at a press conference in the city, said,“My child had hearing loss in the right ear due to an accident. Although hearing was restored naturally, I am here to do my bit for children who suffer from this ailment.”