Hereditary Hearing Loss Explained

There are a number of different causes of hearing loss, one being hereditary hearing loss. Learn more.

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In the United States, approximately 15% (37.5 million) adults aged 18 and over report some difficulty hearing according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), Hearing loss is actually the 3rd most chronic physical condition in the United States, making it more prevalent than diabetes or cancer.

There are a number of causes of hearing loss, ranging from natural aging, exposure to loud noises, and in some cases, hereditary hearing loss. The CDC notes that over 35% of age-related hearing impairments can be attributed to genetic hearing loss. In the case of newborns, over 50% of hearing loss is down to hereditary conditions.

What is Hereditary Hearing Loss?

Hereditary hearing loss is also referred to as genetic hearing loss or congenital hearing loss. It happens when a hearing loss or deafness is passed through a person’s genetic make-up. In some instances, a baby will be born with an existing hearing impairment or even deaf. In other cases, the baby is born with a genetic predisposition for a hearing loss. This can make them more likely to experience age-related hearing loss (presbycusis), or increase their risks of noise induced hearing loss (NIHL).

Birth Defects and Hearing Impairments

Many of us assume hearing loss is a part of aging. In the United States, hearing loss is actually the most common birth defect. A report published by the March of Dimes estimated that 12,000 babies are born with some form of hearing impairment in the United States every year.

The two types of birth defects that can affect the ability to hear are non-syndromic and syndromic. Roughly 30% of hearing-related birth defects are syndromic, meaning they affect either the development or the structure of the ear. The remaining 70% of those born with hearing loss are considered non-syndromic or genetic.

Conditions that can cause syndromic hearing loss include:

  • Usher Syndrome
  • Pendred Syndrome
  • Waardenburg Syndrome
  • Treacher Collins Syndrome

How Common is Hereditary Hearing Loss?

Wikipedia highlights how common hereditary hearing loss actually is:

  • Hearing loss can be inherited. About 75 - 80% of these cases are inherited by recessive genes. This is called non-syndromic hearing impairment.
  • 20 - 25% of inherited hearing loss is from dominant genes. This is called a syndromic hearing impairment. This is because the hearing loss can be attributed to other clinical abnormalities.
  • Only 1 - 2% of inherited hearing loss is inherited by X-linked patterns.
  • Less than 1% of inherited hearing loss is from a mitochondrial inheritance.

How Can You Treat Hereditary Hearing Loss?

Treatment plans for hereditary hearing loss will likely differ from a treatment plan for a hearing loss caused by excessive noise. In order to establish the most appropriate treatment plan, it is important to first determine if your hearing loss is genetic. If you’d like to discuss further, please come in and meet with the team at Hearing Balance & Speech Center.

Hearing, Balance, & Speech Center is Here to Help You with all Your Listening Needs

If you’d like more information on hereditary hearing loss, or to discuss a treatment plan suitable for you, please contact us at Hearing, Balance, & Speech Center to speak with one of our hearing professionals. We are here to take care of all your listening needs.