It’s a saying that when a baby is born, a mom is born. A new baby brings a lot of happiness and excitement but it also brings anxiety. A new mom worries about the wellbeing of her newborn all the time. To make sure the baby is fine, parents follow everything the doctor recommends, be it timely vaccinations, nutrition of the baby or any mandatory tests.

In India, it’s mandatory to get vaccinations according to the chart approved by the government. Also, there are a few tests which are immediately performed when a baby is born.  But sadly, hearing screening is not mandatory in our country.

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According to a survey by Cochlear India, most mothers know that the newborn screening for hearing is important but few actually screen their babies at birth.

Now there are few questions which I will be addressing here-

What can be the long-term effects of not getting an early screening?

Why is early intervention important?

What can a parent do when a child is diagnosed with any level of hearing loss?

What can be the long-term effects of not getting an early screening?

If a child is not screened at birth and has a hearing problem which is not detected early, it can affect the speech development of the child. According to doctors, the first two to three years of life are the most important time for speech and language development. Most hearing impaired children in India miss out on the critical age of language learning. Also, an untreated hearing loss can mean that some children never learn to speak.

Early intervention is important as the sooner it is detected, faster you can get it treated before it affects other developmental milestones. Initial screening can help parents to even know the level of hearing loss in their child. It can be mild, moderate or severe hearing loss and it has a treatment accordingly. In case of any of these symptoms,   you must consult the doctor immediately –

  1. Do not respond to sounds.
  2. Has delayed or improper speech development
  3. Suffers from an ear blockage or pain in the ear.

How can early intervention be achieved?

  1. Early diagnosis through hearing screening a few hours after birth. It is called OAE or Oto Acoustic Emission test which is a simple handheld device to check the hearing. A doctor or nurse can easily do it when a child is asleep and has no side effects.
  2. Taking suitable measures of intervention based on the diagnosis.

An early intervention can help you to take right corrective measures as early as 6 months. The good news is that there is a remedy available which can help your child to lead a normal life like children his/her age.

What can a parent do when a child is diagnosed with any level of hearing loss?

When a child is screened at birth and if there is a problem, the first step is to check the severity. If it is a mild to moderate hearing loss, your ENT would recommend hearing aids but if it’s a complete hearing loss in both the ears, Cochlear implants are helpful. Cochlear implants are small, light and comfortable to wear. This smallest and lightest behind the ear hearing solution combines comfort with proven improvement in hearing.

You can see this video to know how a cochlear implant works-

I recently got a chance to meet Bret Lee, the First Global Hearing Ambassador for Cochlear implants. According to him, it was a big wake up call for him when his son was diagnosed with hearing loss at the age of 5 years. He is actively involved in this awareness campaign as early screening can help in getting early treatment and help kids to live a normal life as adults.

The awareness session was very insightful as we got to meet Dr. Shankar Madikeri and Ms. Rashmi Deshpande who are active partners in this initiative. Along with the, we got a chance to meet the parents and 13-month-old child Prajna who got her implants recently as early screening helped them to diagnose the problem immediately after birth.

The stigma attached to hearing screening in India – 

In India, people in small cities and rural areas still believe that God can cure any such problem. There is a huge stigma attached to get the hearing screening in babies. On the top of that, in many hospitals especially Government hospitals do not perform the early screening. Parents are not even aware that a child should get the screening done after birth. So, there is a huge need for awareness regarding this. Parents should be aware that there are things which need medical intervention and can’t get better on its own.

Cochlear is spreading the awareness with its hearing matters campaign. As parents, you can check with your healthcare professional regarding this so that a child can easily communicate in school with his peers and teachers, make new friends and also live a happy and healthy life. Let’s join hands to spread the awareness and hope that hearing screening is mandatory in all the hospitals in India.

To know more about Cochlear, follow them –

Twitter: @CochlearIndia
Facebook: @CochlearIndia
Instagram: @CochlearIndia

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