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Early diagnosis vital for kids with hearing loss

2012-09-04

KUALA LUMPUR: Babies with totally impaired hearing have a good chance of speaking and attending a normal school if their hearing loss is diagnosed early.

However, Hospital Kuala Lumpur ear, nose and throat surgeon Dr Iskandar Hailani said studies showed that on average, Malaysian parents bring in their children for diagnosis at 3.7 years.

“By the time they are fitted with a hearing aid or cochlear implant, that's four years lost and this hampers their speech development and affects their learning abilities,” he told The Star.

Dr Iskandar said parents should look out for signs of hearing loss in their babies and 50% of those with hearing impairment were high-risk due to family history, jaundice, low birth weight, mothers on drugs, infection during pregnancy or problems during delivery.

Studies showed that prevalence of hearing loss in newborns was bet-ween one to four per 1,000.

The ministry's Family Health Development Division senior principal assistant director Dr Aminah Bee Mohd Kassim said newborn screening was only done for high-risk babies and universal screening was being carried out incrementally.

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