DNA and Genes

Deaf Genetics

Deafness is an etiologically heterogeneous trait with many known genetic and environmental causes.

Genetic factors account for at least half of all cases of profound congenital deafness, and can be classified by the mode of inheritance and the presence or absence of characteristic clinical features that may permit the diagnosis of a specific form of syndromic deafness. The identification of more than 120 independent genes for deafness has provided profound new insights into the pathophysiology of hearing, as well as many unexpected surprises.

Although a large number of genes can clearly cause deafness, recessive mutations at a single locus, GJB2 or Connexin 26, account for more than half of all genetic cases in some, but not all populations. The high frequency may well be related to the greatly improved social, educational, and economic circumstances of the deaf that began with the introduction of sign language 300-400 years ago, along with a high frequency of marriages among the deaf in many countries.

In summary, there are two common deaf genes (Connexin 26 and Connexin 30) because they are known to be a common cause of sensorineural deafness ("nerve deafness").

More information on Waardenburg Syndrome

Useful Ethics Genetics for the Deaf Community

General Genetics, Science and Religion Links

Useful books

  • The Language of God by Dr Francis Collins
  • God Delusion by Dr Richard Dawkins
  • Mere Christainity by CS Lewis