‘Nearly 3.5 million babies in India are born too early every year’

‘Nearly 3.5 million babies in India are born too early every year’

September 26, 2023

Former AIISH Director Dr. M. Jayaram inaugurates two-day national seminar

Mysore/Mysuru: Dr. M. Jayaram, former Director of All India Institute of Speech and Hearing (AIISH), Mysuru, said that nearly 3.5 million babies in India are born too early, 1.7 million babies are born with birth defects and one million new-borns are discharged every year from Special New-born Care Units.

According to UNICEF statistics, India witnesses 73,787 births per day (26.932 million per year).  Though the infant mortality is also very high, still everyday addition to the paediatric population is significantly high, he noted.

He was delivering the keynote address on ‘Current status of screening for speech, language and hearing disorders in paediatric population in India and the path ahead’ during the two-day national seminar on ‘Early Identification and Intervention of Communication Disorders in Children’ organised by AIISH at its Seminar Hall here on Monday.

Dr. Jayaram said “These new-borns remain at high risk of death, stunting, developmental delay and communication disorders.  New-borns have to be screened for a number of developmental disorders.  Early identification and intervention means that we are on the path to create a life akin to ours for some or most of these children.  We believe that the cost of screening / identifying a baby with disability would be much lesser than the cost of managing the child later in his/her life.  Therefore, early identification programmes are a necessity and in order.”

He also mentioned that non-availability of trained personnel in adequate numbers, gargantuan size of the population to be screened, geographical vastness for coverage, lack of instrumentation, poor awareness/education of the people, administrative apathy, and lack of policy backup are some of the issues that contribute to the complexity of the issue.

“The approaches that we are following for identification of communication disorders all these days are pedestrian and uneconomical. We need to think of alternate approaches and in this direction, a search for biochemical indicators may turn out to be a more profitable approach.  However, I am aware that finding biomarkers is not an easy thing.  It is time-consuming, requires major and multipronged research,” he said.

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Dr. S.N. Prashanth, Professor and Head, Department of Paediatrics, JSS Medical College, who  spoke on topic ‘Role of Paediatricians in the early identifications of Communication disorders’ mentioned that early identification and treatment is very important while M. Sandeep, Professor of Audiology, AIISH, delivered a talk on ‘Prevalence of Communication Disorders and Need for Early Identification and Intervention’.

P. Manjula, Dean – Research and Development, Director Incharge, AIISH, was present. Over 175 participants from across the country are taking part in the seminar which concludes today.


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