Why should I get my infant screened?

Around 4 out of every 1000 newborn world over reported to be having hearing defect or impairment. Even worse, many times these children are born to families with no history of hearing impairment. In spite of these risk, most of the children in India do not receive a screening to test for hearing impairments.

Why do I have to screen my child when they are an infant?

Early detection of hearing impairments is crucial to ensure that children get the help they needed. Many times, families wait far too long and don’t act until they find their children have problems of language and social skills.

What are the consequences of hearing impairments?

Hearing is crucial to successful development of cognitive and language skills. Much of this development occurs during a child’s first 5 years. A failure to detect and manage hearing impairments can significantly impact a child’s overall educational and social development throughout his or her childhood.

Additionally, children with hearing impairments in India are more likely to face discrimination which could lead to poor academic performance leading to poverty. Studies have also shown that children with hearing impairments have significantly higher rates of depression and other mental illness.

What kind of hearing tests are performed?

There are two different types of hearing screening that are given to infants.

  • Otoacoustic Emissions Testing – This testing involves playing sounds into a baby’s ear. A microphone is placed in the baby’s ear to listen for a response. If an infant has normal hearing, the sound reflects back from the ear canal to the microphone.
  • Auditory Brainstem Response Testing – This testing involves playing sounds into a baby’s ear and analyzing the brain’s response. Electrodes are placed on a baby’s head and are used to analyze how the hearing nerve in the brain responds to sound. This can help identify if a baby has normal hearing or a hearing impairment.

These tests are designed to be painless and minimal.

Are these  tests  safe  on new born?

These tests are absolutely safe on new born children and will have no impact from such  test.

How many children have hearing impairments?

According to 2005 estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO), 278 million people worldwide have moderate to profound hearing loss in both ears.

If this is such a big deal, why aren’t most children being screened?

Lack of awareness of the screening test is the major problem besides non-availability of these centers for easy access.

As a result, community organizations like Ear to Hear are aiming to raise awareness and provide the tools necessary to ensure that children across India are screened and tested.