Pune, 9th March 2022: The problem of congenital hearing loss in India is a serious and deep rooted one with 4 to 6 babies suffering from it per 1,000 normal live births, which means around 1 lakh children are born with hearing impairment every year in India. To talk about Maharashtra, around 4500- 5000 children are born with some degree of congenital hearing loss.
World Hearing Day 2022 was recently observed on March 3, and Cochlea Pune for Hearing and Speech is observing the entire month of March as the same, where parents can bring in their new-borns or young children for a Free hearing check-up test at the Cochlea Pune for Hearing & Speech centre in Pune.
Why early diagnosis and early intervention is needed. Hearing loss is a hidden disability as the child is absolutely normal otherwise physically and mentally. Thus, by the time the deafness is identified, the child has almost crossed the age of 3-4 years. The most obvious effect of congenital hearing loss is on language and speech development as the tendency of human brain to learn a language and speech is up to 6 years only.
This also impacts on the literacy, self-esteem, communication and social skills of the congenitally hearing-impaired child. Untreated hearing loss is often associated with academic underachievement which will lead to reduced employment opportunities later in life. This further leads to emotional and psychological consequences like feeling of isolation, loneliness, depression etc. Thus, if not attended at an early age it will impact not just the child born with an impairment, but will have direct impact on the family, society and thus the nation as well.
Addressing the Media, Dr. Akshay Wachasunder, ENT Surgeon said, “All babies should be screened for hearing loss no later than 1 month of age. It is best if they are screened before leaving the hospital after birth. It is done by doing an OAE test. If a baby does not pass this hearing screening, it’s very important to get a full hearing test as soon as possible, but no later than 3 months of age. It is advisable for new-borns with specific risk factors, e.g., those who have been treated for more than 5 days in a neonatal intensive care unit or required ventilation, to be referred for immediate screening or go straight to (confirmatory) diagnostic evaluation. If identified at an early age hearing loss can be treated with the help of hearing aids/cochlear implants and speech therapy which will help in overcoming the hearing disability.”
What are the early signs of congenital hearing loss?
· baby not being startled by loud sounds
· baby not turning to the source of sound
· unable to speak words like ‘mama’, ‘dada’ by the age of 1 year.
· The mother can pick up hearing loss in her baby much faster as the baby doesn’t respond to her sound while she calls out her name.
What to do if you are suspecting a hearing loss –
· visit your Paediatrician
· visit an E.N.T. surgeon
· get audiological tests like Brainstem evoked response audiometry (BERA), oto acoustic emission (OAE) done to confirm the hearing loss.
Treatment of congenital sensorineural hearing loss: –
The treatment of congenital hearing loss depends on the severity of hearing loss.
Hearing aids are beneficial for children having up to moderate to moderately severe hearing loss.
Cochlear Implant is a recent modality and has revolutionized the treatment of profound hearing loss. Hearing aids just amplify sounds whereas Cochlear Implants give an actual sense of hearing and by pass the damaged part of the ear and use electrical stimulation to enable you to hear. Cochlear Implant also helps in hearing and understanding speech without lip reading . Cochlear implants along with auditory verbal therapy improve the clarity of child speech as well.
Role of Cochlea Pune for Hearing and Speech and Moraya Hospital
The uniqueness of our centre is that we provide a holistic approach for treatment and rehabilitation of hearing-impaired children in our institution. Our speciality is to work under one roof to reverse hearing disability. In collaboration with Moraya Multispecialty Hospital, our centre has successfully carried out more than 140 Cochlear implant surgeries. Moraya Hospital is empanelled under various government schemes like ADIP and RBSK which helps provide funding for Cochlear Implant surgeries, thus making it easier for families of economically weaker section to avail a Cochlear Implant surgery free of cost which usually costs around Rs. 700000/-.
Our centre makes sure that every implanted child receives auditory verbal therapy near his or her residence and also provide financial assistance for the same and our hospital keeps regular and long-term follow-up of the progress of the child. Knowing the scarcity of special educators needed for rehabilitation, our centre has started training the mothers of the hearing-impaired babies. These mothers not only teach their own babies but attend to other congenitally hearing babies as well.
In the early development age, the first impact of hearing occurs on speech and language development in child. If a child does not hear in the early age his or her brain starts adapting to understand sound through other organs like eyes and starts using gestures to fulfil his needs. At a later age he or she become a sign language user if hearing loss is not treated at an early age