Saturday, June 8, 2013

Thoughts on Genetic Hearing Loss and My Son

My dad and I, on the day I was born
(First off, I apologize for not blogging more recently. Pregnancy, work, school and life in general have taken up the time I used to have for this blog, but I hope to still write when I can.)

I have heard a question from a few people over the course of my pregnancy wondering how possible it is for Tripp (our nickname for our son) to be deaf or have a degree of hearing loss. I thought I would ruminate on this subject a little bit.

I am not sure if I got a hearing test when I was born in 1986, but if I had I probably would have passed it. When diagnosed, my hearing loss was mild to moderate at age 4. The signs were fairly subtle and it was only thanks to my mom's observational skills and mother's instinct that I was tested for my hearing loss. I was fitted for hearing aids. Subsequent doctors/audiologists told my parents that my hearing loss was likely not genetic. This was in the 90s, of course, when genetics were not as well understood as they are today - now you can spend $99 on a genetics test and learn about your genes.

It is possible my hearing loss is not genetic, but I have a hunch that it might be. Nonsyndromic (i.e. I have no other symptoms that might point to a specific disorder) sensorineural progressive hearing loss doesn't seem to be common outside of a genetic disorder.

According to the genetic test I have taken (through 23andMe*) I do carry a mutation in the GJB2 gene linked to connexin-26 sensorineural hearing loss. I don't have the two mutations usually associated with connexin-26 hearing loss, but I can pass it down. If my husband, who has typical hearing, also has the mutation, he could pass it down, meaning Tripp might inherit two mutations and thus have connexin-26 hearing loss. He hasn't done 23andMe, so we don't know his carrier status.

So what it comes down to is basically what it comes down to with any child and any inherited condition - it's possible. Of all the genetics roll-of-the-dice that could wind up with Tripp having some kind of disorder or condition, if I had a choice to pick one, I'd take hearing loss, because I am more familiar with it and the resources our family would need to help him. But when it comes right down to it, the possibilities are there for any number of complications, hearing loss being just the one that happens to come to mind most often.

I just know that my job as a mom will be to love my kids no matter what. I'm surrounded by great role-models in that regard, and I know it's not going to be an issue for me. I can't wait to see what the genetic roll of the dice gives Tripp - his dad's hair, my nose, whose eyes? We will see, and that includes his hearing, as well. 

*referral link. Non-referral: 23andme.com

1 comment:

  1. I had stopped reading your blog for awhile as I stopped blogging myself after some health issues and moving for a new job. You came across my thoughts today so I decided to check your blog. First congradulations on your son. It's a fair concern you have regarding your sons hearing loss. As you know my wife is hearing impaired as well and when our son was born we had him tested for hearing loss and he came out fine. This was 1995 so again technology should be better now. It wasn't until he was two or three that we had suspicions as his language did not develop as quickly as we thought it should. We had him tested again but he was such a squirmer and didn't pay attention to the test the results came out inconclusive. About 4 years old we tested him once again and finally got the news that he was in fact hearing impaired. Me being the typical male had always believed there was nothing wrong with him and it was a huge shock and led to me feeling I failed as a parent for not having him checked enough to help him out.

    If it means anything to you our son hearing loss is not as severe as my wifes so it's possible if your son shows signs of a loss it may not be as severe. My son pretty much refuses to wear his hearing aids and has gotten by most of life without it. Now that he's starting college and will be in large classrooms we are encouraging him to use them and are looking at purchasing some new ones for him.

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