One woman strives to tackle newborn hearing loss in the developing world
Many developing countries do not have programs to screen for hearing loss. India, with an average of 100,000 babies born a year who have a hearing loss, is among them.
It’s often not until children have noticeable speech delays, that their hearing is screened. If measures were taken for earlier diagnoses, children would not loose speech.
Neeti Kailas and her husband Nitin Sisodia of India created a prototype of a device that can be used to identify hearing problems in babies. For her role in meeting this significant need, Kailas will be among the five individuals selected from a group of 1,800, acknowledged by the Rolex Awards for Enterprise. The other honorees hail from Saudi Arabia, Cameroon, Rwanda, and Italy. Their accomplishments are either medical, animal, or environment related. Kailas will be given around $56,000 for this award, which she intends to use for clinical trials and the anticipated 2016 launch of the device.
Because of noise levels in hospitals, it is often difficult to find a noiseless location to conduct a hearing test, but Kailas’s invention tunes out background noise. It works by recognizing brain activity typical of normal hearing. The anticipated cost of the hearing screener is around $4,000 per unit. However, Kailas intends to find methods to reduce the cost.
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