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Indian Express
23, February 2010
Neelam Sharma
Chandigarh, India

Though a child begins to walk after she turns one, legs of three to four months old babies can be examined to see if they might face any problem later in life. Similarly, if a child does not respond to her mother, it could be an indication of some cognitive complication
Dr Chhaya Prasad
Pediatrician, RIMH, Sector 31

WORRIED about your newborn hitting the growth milestones – from flashing the first smile to gripping an object and crawling – at the right time?

To ensure that speech and movement disabilities that a child carries into adulthood are identified early, the Regional Institute of Mentally Handicapped (RIMH), Sector 31, has started a therapy, which detects disabilities in newborns.

Under the programme, sound and movement of babies as young as one or two months old are examined to see signs of complications, which might develop later in life.

“Through techniques we can detect if a newborn would be able to walk properly or if there is a likelihood of her developing a problem, which manifests only later in life,” Dr Chhaya Prasad, a paediatrician at RIMH, said.

Under the first–of–its–kind initiative in the region, parents can visit special clinics with babies from 0 to 6 years and get them examined.

“We have conducted a number of camps in and around the city and have identified 583 children, who showed signs of problems at a very young age. They are under therapy now,” Dr Prasad added.

In the process, the limbs and movements of the babies are examined from various angles and signs like smiling on seeing the mother are observed.

“Though a child begins to walk after the age of one, legs of three–four months old babies can be examined to see if they would face some problem later,” Dr Prasad said. “Similarly, if a child does not respond to his mother, it could be an indication of some cognitive complication.”

The mother is given a card to mark if the baby hits milestones like speech, eating, gripping and crawling at the right time.

Dr B S Chavan, joint director at RIMN, says success rate of early intervention is good.

“Since we are the first in the region to begin early intervention services, we expect a good response from parents who feel their babies are deviating from normal behavior,” Dr Chavan said.

Who needs early intervention?
High–risk newborns are examined for signs that may lead to complications later in life. Subsequently, they are put under therapy.

"Some children develop organs slower than others. Some develop differently. We should identify such deviations as early as possible and deal with them at the earliest,” paediatrician Dr Chhaya Prasad said.

High–risk newborns are those born with low weight, who remain inactive or hungry and those who are delivered at home, where infection and prolonged labour can lead to higher chances of retardation.

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