Hearing science professionals estimate that 1 to 3 babies per 1,000 are born with some degree of hearing loss.
The cause of your child's hearing loss will be one of the following:
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.
Autosomal recessive inheritance means that:
In approximately 15% of cases of genetic hearing loss the cause is
autosomal dominant. This means:
The remaining cases of genetic hearing loss include other forms of inheritance.
Genetic testing may determine whether your child's hearing loss is due to non-genetic causes or due to changes on a gene resulting in hearing loss. From this information, professionals can calculate the likelihood that other children in your family may also have a hearing loss due to the same cause. A full genetic evaluation will also determine if there are other health conditions that should also be addressed.
In general, why your child has a hearing loss does not affect how your child will be educated. Management of your child's hearing loss will be based upon the specific characteristics of your child and his or her communication needs. The findings from a genetic evaluation may be relevant for your child's medical care.
If the cause of your child's hearing loss is an
recessive gene, then the likelihood that this will happen in another child (assuming the same partner) is
1 in 4 (25%). If the cause of your child's hearing loss is an
autosomal dominant gene, then the likelihood that this will happen in another child (assuming the same partner) is
1 in 2 (50%).
If it is determined that you and your partner carry the silent (recessive) gene which causes a hearing loss, then each of the unaffected children resulting with that partner have a
1 in 3 (66%) chance of also carrying the mutated gene, but not having hearing loss.
Whether or not your unaffected children should be tested to determine if they also carry the deafness gene is a matter of choice. Your unaffected children may want to know their own gene carrier status so they would know whether to have their partners tested to determine if their children (your grandchildren) have a chance of having hearing loss due to this gene.
If you and your partner carry a recessive gene, then at least one of your parents and one of your partner's parents also carry the gene. This means that each of your brothers and sisters has a 50% chance of carrying the same gene.
The monetary costs of a genetic evaluation and medical tests are generally covered by your health insurance. Families should always check with their health insurance carrier to determine if genetic and medical tests are covered under their particular plan.