Genetic Hearing ImpairmentJune 15, 2017
Most hearing professionals concur that majority of the cases of hearing loss is a result of some type of genetic abnormality. Developmental experts believe that in developed countries, hearing loss due to genetic predisposition is the most common birth defect.
Our DNA comprises of tiny pieces of code known as genes. Research suggests that over one hundred distorted or absent genes can account for a negative impact on hearing. Any type of abnormal sequencing of these genes that are inherited by children can result in hearing loss.
Genetic hearing loss can affect both the inner as well as the outer ear. The types of hearing loss that can be sustained due to genetic predisposition is conductive, sensorineural, or mixed. Certain genes affect children’s hearing before the child even begins to learn how to converse; this is known as prelingual hearing loss. Other genes can result in hearing loss after the child has learned conversational skills; this is known as postlingual hearing loss.
According to the National Institute of Health, Usher syndrome is a condition that frequently affects over 50% of people who are blind and deaf. Another syndrome that results in inner ear hearing loss is Waardenburg syndrome. This syndrome not only affects the hearing but also results in pale skin, white hair and light-colored eyes.
Luckily, the genes that can result in hearing loss are usually recessive and thus tend not to be easily passed down from generation to generation. If even one parent has no hearing impairment gene code, the child is most likely to have normal hearing. Furthermore, there have been cases that report that children of two hearing-impaired parents can also have normal hearing. Since genetic code is complex and diverse, the cause of hearing loss in one person does not need to be the same as the cause that results in hearing loss in another. If you feel that you or a loved one may possess genetic predisposition towards hearing loss, check with a doctor so that genetic testing can be conducted to highlight any potential risks.