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Govt launches low-cost screening device SOHUM to detect congenital hearing loss in newborns

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On July 17, 2017, Ministry of Science and Technology launched Sohum Hearing Screening device, a low-cost indigenous screening device to detect congenital hearing loss in newborns. The device was formally launched in New Delhi by the Minister of State for Science and Technology YS Chowdary.

What is Congenital Hearing Loss?

Congenital Hearing Loss is one of the most common birth disorders and is a result of both genetic and non-genetic factors.

  • When it is discovered after an age of 4, it is too late to reverse the damage and this leads to a host of problems such as impaired communication skills.
  • India, accounts for 1,00,000 of 8,00,000 hearing impaired babies born in the world annually.

About Sohum Hearing Screening device:

The device has been developed by the School of International Biodesign (SIB) start-up Sohum Innovation Labs India Pvt. Ltd.

  • It was developed as part of a Department of Biotechnology project to develop new medical technologies.
  • The portable Sohum Hearing Screening measures auditory brain waves via three Govt launches low-cost screening device SOHUM to detect congenital hearing loss in newbornselectrodes 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, thereby eliminating any risk.
  • As per Department of Biotechnology, another key advantage of this new device 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 device has been installed in five clinical centres that are currently running the hearing screening program with the aim of screening 2% of hospital-born babies in the first year, before scaling up.

Facts about School of International Biodesign (SIB):

The School of International Biodesign (SIB), based in New Delhi, aims to cultivate a new generation of medical technology innovators in India.

  • It is funded by the Indian Ministry of Science and Technology.
  • SIB is run by a consortium of Indian, Japanese and Australian universities.