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Definition of Congenital deafness

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.


Last Editorial Review: 9/20/2012

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