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Whether a child is born with the condition or develops it at a young age, 50% of hearing loss cases in children are caused by genetic changes or mutations. In most cases, children who are born with genetic hearing loss do not exhibit any other major health issues. However, there are certain types of genetic hearing loss that are linked to a genetic syndrome that could lead to other health concerns, including heart defects, vision loss, or delayed development.

Is a Family History of Hearing Loss a Good Indicator of Genetic Predisposition?

Genetic hearing loss can develop whether a patient has a family history of hearing loss or not. While some families have multiple members who have displayed a form of hearing loss throughout their lives, others may only have one. Even if the child in question is the first known family member to develop hearing loss, it does not mean that there is no underlying genetic cause. 

Is Getting a Genetic Diagnosis Helpful for a Child Hearing Loss Sufferer?

Genetic hearing loss is not always tied to a family history of the condition. While some families may have several family members suffering from the condition, others will only have one. In other cases, the family may have no known family members who have the condition. It is important to note that even if the child is the first known case of hearing loss in the family, a genetic mutation could still be at the root of the condition.

How Can a Genetic Diagnosis Help My Family?

In cases where a child's hearing loss is found to be caused by genetics, genetic testing can help the family figure out which other family members possess the same genetic mutation. This information will be helpful for other members of the family, as it can help them predict future cases of hearing loss. Those who carry the mutation and are hoping to have children will be able to be better prepared and make a better-informed decision going forward. 

How Does Genetic Testing Work?

Genetic testing is basically a medical examination in which a lab technician looks for genetic mutations in an individual’s DNA. The test is usually carried out by collecting a small blood sample (somewhere around 2 to 3 teaspoons). The blood sample is then sent out to a diagnostic laboratory that can analyze it to find any genetic mutations that may be indicative of genetic hearing loss. The results from a genetic test can take anywhere from three to five weeks to be processed and returned. 

What Happens During a Genetics Appointment?

The child will meet with both a genetic counselor and a pediatric genetics specialist. During this process, the counselors will gather information about the child’s medical and family history in addition to carrying out a comprehensive evaluation. This assessment will help the team determine which genes are most likely responsible for the hearing loss and what the best way to test for them will be. Beyond that, the child will be provided with information about hearing loss genetics and helpful resources (such as information on support groups). 

What is the Takeaway?

Hearing loss isn’t always hereditary. It can be the result of events that harm the ears, such as exposure to loud sounds (gun shots, explosions, loud concerts, etc) or physical trauma to the ears themselves. That said, most cases of hearing loss in children can be attributed to genetic factors. Having a game plan for how to approach this situation is vital for the child’s mental well being. 

The team at SFENTA is highly revered for their effective hearing loss treatments. Our expert ENT specialists can diagnose your issues and help you get the treatment you need. Reach out to us today to set up a private consultation. 

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