The Genetics of Hearing Loss

Can you inherit hearing loss? As you might expect, the answer is complicated.

Because of genetic mutations that can be passed from parent to child, certain individuals may be more pre-disposed to hearing difficulty than others. Hereditary hearing loss can be seen in everything from genetic abnormalities in inner ear sensory cells to specific disorders such as Usher syndrome, Pendred syndrome, and Otosclerosis.

In some cases, genetic hearing loss can appear in newborns. About 50% of all children’s hearing loss can be due to genetic influences. According to BabyHearing.org:

“In approximately 70% of cases of genetic hearing loss, the cause is autosomal recessive. About 12 babies per 10,000 have a recessive cause of their hearing loss. Congenital hearing loss (hearing loss present at birth) that is due to one of the many recessive genes is twice as common as Cystic Fibrosis, another recessive genetic condition.”

Hereditary hearing difficulty can also manifest later in life. Anyone can experience the symptoms and effects of hearing loss at any time.

The causes and permutations of hearing disorders are very complex, and not everyone will be able to — or feel the need to — have their genes sequenced to see what could potentially be passed down to their children. That said, it’s important to know that sometimes hearing loss simply can be explained by genetics, to the fault of no one involved. So, if you notice any hearing issues in you or your child, it’s important to get them checked out right away, even if you don’t fit into any high-risk groups.