Mumbai: Nearly 10,000 children aged up to 18 years were born with birth defects, the state health department has revealed after surveying 2.45 crore children since February. Of the total 9,860 children and adolescents, 5,399 were born with congenital heart disease (CHD); 55% of the total number born with defects. Another 1,825 had congenital deafness, 1,256 were born with cleft lip and palate, 867 with club foot and 513 with Down syndrome.
The survey, being conducted under the Jagruk Palak, Sudrud Baalak programme is still continuing. Any children found in need of immediate attention are being sent to nearby hospital or tertiary care centre for treatment.
CHD Data matches global estimate
Health experts said the incidence of CHD in India is estimated to be around nine per 1000 live births, which matches the global estimate. Officials said all these children are being treated at government hospitals free of cost and the state health department has also empanelled private hospitals for their treatment. Data reveals that 1,066 patients were referred for heart surgeries and 941 were successful.
An official said this is the first time such a screening is being conducted in large numbers. Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram and Rashtriya Kishore Swasthya Karyakram cater to the health of government school students, but this time the state also surveyed children from private schools and out-of-school and orphaned children as well.
CHD is one of the most common birth defects in India, affecting approximately 1% of all newborns every year. If left untreated, these conditions can cause serious health complications or death in severe cases. Early diagnosis is key to preventing long-term consequences. However, lack of awareness and insufficient resources have hindered timely diagnosis and treatment for many children.
A city-based paediatrician said, “Birth defects need to be taken seriously because the earlier they are detected the better it is for the child’s recovery.”
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