Did you know hearing loss can be hereditary? Approximately 1 out of 500 infants are born with or eventually have hearing loss throughout their childhood. Due to the fact that there are many different causes of hearing loss, it is possible that hearing loss is related to genetic factors.

When hearing loss is passed from the parents on to the children, it is called hereditary hearing loss. Hereditary hearing loss can be inherited from either one or both parents who either do or do not have hearing loss. The “genes” or hereditary material are found on the chromosomes on every cell of the body. These “genes” are what give specific traits and characteristics such as hair color, eye color, height, and blood type. If the genes are defective they too can be passed down to children. This can lead to a child developing traits including hearing loss.

Hereditary hearing loss has to be differentiated from hearing loss that has been caused by something such as damage done to the inner ear. Hereditary hearing loss can be detected through a physical exam, otological, and audiological exams. A CT scan of the temporal bone and molecular genetic testing are also taken. The family history is reviewed as well. All these test assist in figuring out whether the hearing loss is hereditary or non-hereditary.

If there is a family history of hearing loss, it is strongly recommended to have the children be genetically tested to find any abnormalities that may lead to hearing loss and have an audiometry screening as soon as possible. Until medical professionals have made a final diagnosis and management plan it is recommended to have your children avoid loud noises for any lengthened period of time.