Cause of Hearing Loss - Genetics

Learn More About Hereditary Deafness

Scientist performing genetic tests
Hero Images/Getty Images

There are many genetic causes of hearing loss (e.g., genes can mutate or a child can inherit genes), hundreds are known, and over time the genes are being identified which may lead to genetic therapies. As much as half of deafness may have a genetic cause.

About Deafness Articles on Hereditary Causes

The following articles at About Deafness/HOH cover various genetic or hereditary causes of deafness:

Organizations Doing Genetic/Hearing Research

Several organizations internationally are doing research into the genetics of deafness and hearing loss.

  • The Boys Town National Research Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska has long done research into the genetics of deafness and hereditary hearing loss. The Boys Town website offers fact sheets on genetics, and information on specific syndromes. In addition, the site recruits participants for studies of specific aspects of hearing loss, such as recessive non-syndromic hearing loss, through its Research Registry for Hereditary Hearing Loss.
  • Gallaudet University has a joint program with the Medical College of Virginia (part of Virginia Commonwealth University) to research and identify the genes that cause hearing loss.
  • The Rockefeller University in New York, New York did a study on the genetics of non-syndromic hearing loss.

    Genetic Counseling

    Parents or prospective parents may wish to seek out genetic counseling to determine the likelihood of a child being born with hearing loss, or to find out if the cause of hearing loss is genetic. Boys Town offers genetic counseling for hearing loss. So does Gallaudet University, through its genetics program.

    Websites on Genetics and Deafness

    Dr. Walter Nance at the Medical College of Virginia has a website, "Finding Genes for Non-Syndromic Deafness" in conjunction with Gallaudet University's Department of Biology. Among other things, this site addresses patterns of genetic inheritance, syndromic deafness, and gene mapping.

    The University of Antwerp in Belgium and the University of Iowa have a joint website, "Hereditary Hearing Loss Homepage." This site is targeted towards professionals, and "lists data and links for all known gene localizations and identifications for nonsyndromic hearing impairment." There are links to research and databases, including the European Thematic Network on the Genetics of Deafness, which focuses on the CX26 gene.

    Books on Genetics and Hearing Loss

    Some books that specifically address hereditary hearing loss have been published. With such a rapidly changing field, I have attempted to include only relevant, fairly current books in the following list:

    • Oxford University Press has published "Hereditary Hearing Loss and Its Syndromes."
    • Genetic Hearing Loss - this book edited by Patrick J. Willems collects the results of genetic research by international researchers. (compare prices)

      Continue Reading