Medical Definition of Congenital deafness

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Congenital deafness: Loss of hearing present at birth or loss that may develop later but is due to genetic causes or other influences that affected the fetus while it was in utero (in the womb).

The distinction between congenital and acquired deafness specifies only the time that the deafness appears. It does not specify whether the cause of the deafness is genetic (inherited).

Congenital deafness may or may not be genetic. For example, it may be associated with a white forelock and different colored eyes, caused by a genetic disease called Waardenburg syndrome. Congenital deafness may also be due to something such as the rubella virus to which the mother was exposed during pregnancy.

Acquired deafness may or may not be genetic. For example, it may be a manifestation of a delayed-onset form of genetic deafness. Or acquired deafness may be due to damage to the ear from noise.

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Reviewed on 12/27/2018

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