''Hearing loss is a serious problem but the children can lead normal lives if they could get proper care and attention,'' Sheriff of Kolkata Dr Dulal Kumar Bose said after launching the Hear In Clinic in the city. He said people often used the phrase ''deaf and dumb'' for such persons because they believed that deafness in children is often also associated with not being able to speak. However, children with hearing impairment do have the capability to learn to speak if they receive appropriate and consistent treatment from the preliminary stage, he informed.
He said children can learn to speak language only at a young age and as they grow older, the ''neural plasticity'' of the brain diminishes.
Consequently, if a child's deafness was not detected and treated early, he became incapable of developing speech.
''Deafness can be detected in children as early as a few hours after birth with modern diagnostic instruments such as Oto-Acoustic Emissions (OAE) Analyzer and Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) system,'' Dr Anjali Ghosh, ENT consultant and surgeon of Hear In Clinic said.
She informed that the American Academy of Paediatrics recommended hearing screening by the age of one month, identification by three months and intervention by six months.
In several countries such as Canada and Australia, newborn screening for deafness is compulsory, Dr Ghosh added.
The Hear In Clinic also announced that it will offer OAE hearing screening to any child under six months of age at no charge as part of its ''early detection and intervention mission''.