A Parent’s Guide to Genetics and Hearing Loss


About 1 in 500 infants are born with or develop hearing loss during early childhood. Screening for hearing loss is considered standard care in the United States and in 2019 over 98% of children were screened, usually before leaving the hospital. Hearing loss has many causes, including genetic causes (that is, caused by the instructions in the baby’s cells) and non-genetic causes (such as certain infections the mother has during pregnancy or infections affecting the newborn baby). A combination of genetic and non-genetic factors also can lead to hearing loss. In general, 4 out of 5 babies with hearing loss have a genetic cause for their hearing loss, while the rest will have non-genetic cause or a combination of factors.

This resource aims to help answer many of the questions that families may have about the causes of hearing loss. For some of the topics, more extensive details are given in the shaded boxes.