SOHUM: Indigenously developed low-cost hearing screening device for newborns launched

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SOHUM, an indigenously developed newborn hearing screening device, was formally launched on 17 July 2017 by YS Chowdary, the Minister of State for Science and Technology & Earth Sciences, at Prithvi Bhavan, New Delhi.

This newborn hearing screening device, SOHUM, has been developed by School of International Biodesign (SIB), a startup M/S Sohum Innovation Labs India Pvt. Ltd. This innovative medical device has been developed under Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Science and Technology; Government of India supported School of International Biodesign (SIB).

About Sohum

SOHUM is a low cost and unique device which uses brainstem auditory evoked response, the gold standard in auditory testing to check for hearing the response in a newborn. 
This SOHUM Hearing Screening measures auditory brain waves via three electrodes, which is 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.

As of now, this technology is prohibitively expensive and inaccessible to many.

Start-up SOHUM has made the technology appropriate for the resource constrained settings and aims to cater to nearly 26 million babies born every year in India.

Why is SOHUM beneficial?

The battery-operated device is non-invasive, which means babies do not need to be sedated, which is current, and risky, testing in process at present. Another key advantage over other testing systems is the patented, inbuilt algorithm that filters out ambient noise from the test signal.

Where are the devices available?

At present, the device has been installed in five clinical centres that are running the hearing screening program.

AIM: The aim is to screen two percent of hospital-born babies in the first year, before scaling up. The project has ambitious plans – to help every baby born in India be screened.

Congenital Hearing Loss

Congenital Hearing Loss is one of the most common birth disorders and it is a result of both genetic and non-genetic factors. These factors are mostly associated with resource-poor economies such as India where, unlike advanced healthcare systems, hearing impairment goes undiagnosed. Thus, when it is discovered at 4+ years, it’s too late to reverse the damage and this leads to a host of problems such as impaired communication skills and even possible mental illness; all of which have a deep impact on the child, emotionally and economically life-long.

Globally, 8 lakh hearing impaired babies are born annually of which, nearly one lakh are in India. And all these preventable damage needs is early screening, which can facilitate timely treatment and rehabilitation. The sohum team has come up with a screening device to facilitate the routine screening of newborn babies – with the potential to help children at a key stage of their development.

About School of International Biodesign (SIB)

SIB is a flagship Program of the DBT aimed to develop innovative and affordable medical devices as per unmet clinical needs of India and to train the next generation of medical technology innovators in India, it is a valuable contribution to the Make in India campaign of the Government.

This Program is implemented jointly at AIIMS and IIT Delhi in collaboration with International partners. Biotech Consortium India Limited manages techno-legal activities of the Program.

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