The Cochlear India survey was conducted with First Moms Club in the lead up to World Hearing Day (March 03) to find out how much Indian mothers knew about hearing loss in children. These findings showed that while mothers are well aware of the need to detect hearing loss in early childhood, they are not fully aware of what they must do or where they can go to get their child screened.
An estimated five to six of every 1000 newborns suffer from some degree of hearing loss in India, but few parents are able to recognise signs or know how to seek treatment. This delays diagnosis well after the critical period of intervention.
The survey stated most mothers (84.1%) believed that children should be tested for hearing loss at birth, but only a few (38.9%) actually had their children screened.
Dr Milind Kirtane, Senior ENT Consultant and Cochlear Implant Surgeon, PD Hinduja Hospital, Saifee Hospital and SRCC Mumbai, said, “Countries that have made newborn hearing screening mandatory are able to take corrective measures in children as young as six months of age.”
He added, “It is very encouraging to see the Kerala government push for universal newborn hearing screening and I sincerely hope the same happens across the country. This must become our national priority.”
So far, Kerala is the first state in India to provide hearing screening for children in all government centres. The Kerala Social Security Mission developed computer-based data management software, where real time data of newborn screening can be recorded and shared with other institutions such as District Early Intervention Centers (DEICs) and medical colleges.
Additionally, measures have been undertaken to ensure follow-up and tracking in Anganwadies and schools.
Brett Lee, former Australian Cricketer and Cochlear’s Global Hearing Ambassador, commented, “All too often, we take little things for granted such as how much hearing matters. It was a big wake up call for me when my son was diagnosed with hearing loss at the young age of five. Early screening for hearing loss can ensure that children are diagnosed and treated early, allowing them to grow up into well-adjusted adults.”
Three in ten mothers surveyed were not sure if children with hearing loss were able to hear again or lead a normal life. The earlier a child is tested, diagnosed and treated for hearing loss, the greater are the chances of realising his/her full potential.
Research shows that children identified with hearing loss who get early intervention can develop language (spoken and/or signed) skills on par with their peers with normal hearing. These children are able to attend mainstream schools, communicate with their teachers and classmates, make new friends and feel confident in a world full of sound.
The Cochlear India Survey findings revealed:
- 84.1% moms agreed children should be tested for hearing loss at birth; but only 38.9% had their babies screened.
- 75.6% moms agree that hearing loss has less impact when treated early.
- Most mothers believe chronic ear infections cause childhood hearing loss.
- Three in ten mothers were unsure if children with hearing loss were able to hear again or lead a normal life.
- When mothers suspect hearing loss, most said they would take their child to the paediatrician, while others would go online to check for more information.