Genetic Studies of Deafness

Hearing loss is a common condition. It can be present in three of every 1,000 babies born. About 60 percent of congenital hearing loss is due to changes in genes. Hearing loss in adults and older children is caused by changes in genes. Overall, genetic changes are an important cause of hearing loss.

There are many genes which cause hearing loss. Hearing loss can be non-syndromic or syndromic. When hearing loss is the only symptom, it is referred to as non-syndromic. Non-syndromic hearing loss is more frequent (70-85%). Research of genetic factors in deafness has refined the molecular mechanism in human hearing.

Syndromic hearing loss means that the patients have additional features such as blindness or different colored eyes. Over 400 syndromes are known to include hearing loss. Fifteen to thirty percent of hearing loss is syndromic.

Researchers at the John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics (HIHG), led by Mustafa Tekin, M.D., are looking for the genetic changes that cause hearing loss to better understand how hearing works.