By; MATTHEW UKACHUNWA, Lagos
A national policy on routine Auditory Brain Response (ABR) screening for every infant in Nigeria has been canvassed by a consultant otorhinolaryngologist, Dr. Chinyere Nkiruka Asoegwu.
Asoegwu who is a lecturer at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos (UNILAG) expressed concern about the rising incidence of early Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) in the country. “Prevalence is on the increase; availability of tools for diagnosis is essential,” she declared.
She made the declaration at an event in Lagos where she lectured on the topic: “ABR A Tool for Early ADD Diagnosis… Evidence And Prospects.”
She disclosed that Nigeria does not have auditory screening technology for newborns.
She emphasized on the importance of Nigeria acquiring hearing technology tools to enable it detect early Attention Deficit Disorder in children.
Asoegwu said that universal hearing screening for newborns in the country has become essential so that the country will be in tune with what is obtainable in other parts of the developed and developing worlds.
The otorhinolaryngologist explained how auditory brainstem response technolovy can be used to screen children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
According to her, ASD starts early in a child’s life but diagnoses are not made early in the country.
The ear, nose and throat diseases specialist said ABR screening can help pick up about 70 per cent of ASD in children, adding that about three in every four ASD is found more in boys than in girls. ABR detects risks, Asoegwu stated.
Though she pointed out that children with autism are hypersensitive to noise, she made it clear that prevalence of hearing impairment is not more common in ASD children.
“ASD children have delayed language development, Asoegwu explained. “They hear well but they have delayed language development.”
The head and neck surgeon was worried that ABR technology is scanty, not only in Nigeria but also in Africa.
As the otorlaryngologist stressed: “In most places in the world, once a child is born, the baby is screened for hearing abnormality. If we screen we’ll have a pool of data to study our own people.We need a pool of everybody. Nigeria doesn’t have auditory screening technology for newborn children.”