New Delhi, July 19: A low-cost indigenously developed hearing screening device, ‘Sohum’ for newborns was formally launched to make this battery-operated non-invasive device available across the country to cater nearly 26 million babies born every year in India.
Sohum provides early screening of infants that leads to timely treatment and rehabilitation, as well as savings in health care expenses to the system. It was formally launched by the Minister of State for Science and Technology Y.S. Chowdary in New Delhi on Tuesday.
The Sohum hearing screening device is a highly proprietary, non-invasive, safe device to screen neonates for hearing impairment with high sensitivity and specificity. It is specially designed for mass screening of neonates in resource constrained settings.
Congenital hearing loss, one of the most common birth disorders is a result of both genetic and non-genetic factors. These factors are most associated with resource-poor economies such as India where, unlike advanced healthcare systems, hearing impairment goes undiagnosed.
Consequently, when the damage is discovered at after four years, it’s too late to reverse the damage and this leads to a host of problems such as impaired communication skills and even possible mental illness; all of which have a deep impact on the child, emotionally and economically life-long.
Globally, 8 Lakh hearing impaired babies are born annually from which 1 Lakh babies belong to India. So for preventing such damages all we need is early screening which can facilitate timely treatment and rehabilitation.
The portable Sohum Hearing Screening measures auditory brain waves via three electrodes placed on the baby’s head. When stimulated, they detect electrical responses generated by the brain’s auditory system. If there is no response, the child cannot hear.
The battery-operated device is non-invasive, which means babies do not need to be sedated, which is current, and risky, testing in process at present. Another key advantage over other testing systems is the patented, in-built algorithm that filters out ambient noise from the test signal. This is important because health clinics can be incredibly crowded and noisy. The project has ambitious plans to help every baby born in India be screened.
The newborn hearing screening device developed by School of International Biodesign (SIB) start-up Sohum Innovation Labs India Pvt. Ltd.