4-yr-old 'successfully overcomes' rubella syndrome defects

Four-year-old Jyontika, who was born with congenital rubella syndrome, causing her to have hearing and vision defects besides heart abnormalities, is today leading a normal life after successfully undergoing several surgical interventions.

PTI| Updated: Nov 08, 2015, 19:29 PM IST

New Delhi: Four-year-old Jyontika, who was born with congenital rubella syndrome, causing her to have hearing and vision defects besides heart abnormalities, is today leading a normal life after successfully undergoing several surgical interventions.

She was born with hearing impairment, vision disabilities, a heart defect besides low birth weight and developmental problems.

"Over the course of the first three years in her life, Jyontika underwent a series of surgical interventions to correct her birth defects. A major heart surgery to correct a congenital defect in her heart was followed by a cataract surgery to clear her vision. Finally, she was operated upon to insert cochlear implants into her ear to enable her to hear," said Neevita Narayan, leading audiologist and founder of Sphear Speech and Hearing Clinic.

Her case is one of the rare successful stories of rehabilitation of children who are born with congenital hearing and vision defects, she claimed.

Jyotika was picked up at birth by experts of 'SpHear Speech and Hearing Clinic' who took her under their wing, oversaw a cochlear implant surgery on her and conducted a long rehabilitation process.

Dr Ameet Kishore, Senior Consultant Surgeon, ENT at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital and Consultant Surgeon at the clinic, said a cochlear implant is an electronic medical device that works to perform the function of the damaged inner ear (cochlear) to provide sound signals to the brain.

Congenital rubella syndrome is a condition that occurs in children at birth when the pregnant mother is infected with rubella virus affecting the development of the fetus.

Children born with this condition may suffer multiple disabilities and health complications including cloudy corneas affecting vision, deafness, developmental delay, low birth weight, among others.

Narayan said, "Speech training is a normal part of our rehabilitation exercise, and this is performed extensively for every child or adult who undergoes cochlear implant. However, Jyontika's case was nothing like we had come across earlier.

"Hearing impairment was not the only one disability she was battling against. She also had developmental delay and cognitive function loss because of multiple disabilities. Apart from that multiple surgeries had put a lot of stress on the health of the little girl," she said.

Dr Kishore, however, said implanting a cochlear device

was not the end. "The surgery is required to be followed by a major rehabilitation and speech training program."

"The cochlear implant procedure on Jyontika was followed by a long rehabilitation process involving audiologic and speech therapy," he added.

After over three years of supervision and assistance, she has achieved complete ability to hear and speak and cognitive development at par with the children of her age.

"Four years back it would have been difficult for us to imagine that our child will start her schooling at a normal school, but we are overjoyed by her progress. People do not believe when we tell them that this was a girl born with such difficult conditions and was deaf at birth," said Jyontika's father Joydeep Dutta.

Narayan said, "This case highlights the importance of early detection of hearing loss in a child and how it is crucial that such babies are picked up at birth and intervention is made as early as possible. Deafness being a hidden disability, it is often missed by Indian parents till the time the child is unable to speak. By this time, the child misses crucial months of cognitive development.

"It is advisable for all parents to get their children screened for hearing at birth," she added.