Sunday, June 20, 2021

Screening for hearing loss in newborns begin in Pune


PUNE: Health minister Rajesh Tope said that screening of newborns for hearing ability will be launched in Pune as an experimental project. Gadchiroli and Jalna will also be a part of the project.

Dr Bhagwan Pawar, district health officer, said that primary healthcare centres will soon start the screening facility. “We do not have a newborn screening for checking the hearing capacity of infants. Hence, the initiative will soon be introduced at primary healthcare centers,” said Pawar.

The project was conceived by Member of Parliament (MP) Supriya Sule and presented by Abhijit Raut, state organiser, Disability Rights Development Forum, Yashwantrao Chavan Pratishthan. Dr Arti Kinikar, head of paediatric department at Sassoon General Hospital (SGH), welcomed the decision.

“We at Sassoon General Hospital started a similar programme in 2017. It has helped in timely detection of hearing disability in a lot of children and provide treatment,” said Kinikar. She said that early detection and confirmation of hearing impairment can help children get therapy early and improve their cognitive development.

There was a detailed discussion on the implementation of Otoacoustic emissions (OAE) method in newborns. The test checks the sounds produced by the cochlea. The National Deafness Prevention Programme is being implemented in 16 places in the state and while expanding its scope, instructions were given to implement it across the state.

At present, the number of hearing and language impaired people in the state is around 92,000, of which 51% are in rural areas and 49% in urban areas. Deafness can be prevented if the test is done at an early stage. Therefore, the programme should be planned according to the method of early diagnosis and treatment, a state official said.

“The mobile unit will visit a primary health centre and screen the newborns. Hearing tests can also be done during a child’s immunization session,” said Tope.


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