Congenital and Genetic Hearing Loss

Congenital and Genetic Hearing Loss

What is the difference between congenital and genetic hearing loss? Some people conflate these two concepts. After all, both terms refer to hearing damage that wasn’t caused by noise exposure or an injury. Additionally, many people have hearing loss that is both congenital and genetic.

However, it’s still useful to clarify the difference between these two types of hearing loss.

Congenital Hearing Loss

People who were born with damaged hearing have congenital hearing loss. It can be genetic (hereditary) or non-genetic.

Around 75 percent of people who suffer from congenital hearing loss inherited it from their parents. For the other 25 percent, hearing loss was caused by some abnormality during pregnancy or birth.

A few non-genetic causes include:

  • Premature birth or a lack of oxygen.
  • Infections during pregnancy.
  • The mother having diabetes or other blood issues.

Regardless of what caused it, congenital hearing loss comes with a unique set of problems. After all, hearing is a crucial part of a child’s cognitive and social development. Infants who have partial or total hearing loss usually have difficulties in other areas as well.

Cochlear implants can be a solution, but not until the child is at least one year old. Hearing aids present some problems too. Statistics show that around 92% of deaf children are born with hearing parents. Thus, parents need to adjust to raising a child with hearing impairments.

Genetic Hearing Loss

If you have hearing loss, there’s a chance it’s because of genetic factors. You can inherit hearing-related disorders from one or both parents.

In many cases, these disorders manifest at birth, but some people only realize that they have hereditary hearing loss later in life. Usher syndrome is an example of a disorder that simultaneously causes congenital and genetic hearing loss.

Before they have children, adults with hereditary hearing loss can look into genetic counseling. It can be possible to find out whether the disorder will pass on to the next generation.