Can hearing loss be genetic? The simple response to this question is ‚”Yes”.  When you look at the data, genetic causes are actually the largest category of hearing losses. Additionally, developmental experts consider genetic hearing loss to be the most common birth defect in developed countries.

Genes, DNA & families. They way your body looks and functions is governed by the genetic code of your DNA – your genes. Scientists have discovered more than 100 genes that can impact hearing. Hearing loss may result from any one of these genes being absent or altered. Parent genes are passed to children, so any irregular gene sequences which produce hearing loss are handed down.

Genetic hearing loss categories. Hereditary hearing loss can affect the inner ear, outer ear or both. Depending on the particular cause, the ensuing hearing loss is classified as sensorineural, conductive or mixed (which is a combination of the two). What’s more, hereditary hearing loss can present itself at birth or later on in life. One of the more common disorders to affect hearing is Usher syndrome, a condition that is believed to afflict over half of deaf-blind individuals as reported by the National Institutes of Health. Another prevalent genetic condition is Waardenburg syndrome, a condition in which hearing loss happens in the inner ear but external effects such as light skin, light eyes and a white flash of hair may be also be observed.

The good news about hereditary hearing losses. While it is true that parents with hearing loss genes may pass them on to their kids, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the children will have a hearing problem. The genes that contribute to hearing loss are usually recessive and therefore often don’t lead to any outward symptoms because the child has inherited a normal copy from the other parent. It is not uncommon for the children of hearing impaired parents to have normal hearing. Because there are hundreds of genes involved in hearing, it is more likely than not that the parental hearing losses don’t share exactly the same cause. Families concerned with genetic hearing loss can see a doctor for genetic testing that can help identify potential risks.

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