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Can Nutritional Supplements Impact Genetic Hearing Loss in Children?

Can Nutritional Supplements Impact Genetic Hearing Loss in Children?

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A high-dose antioxidant regimen helps slow one type of genetic hearing loss in mice. Researchers hope to learn whether it could someday be used to treat the most common cause of childhood deafness.

Researchers are studying how to slow the progression of hereditary deafness, specifically the impact of nutritional supplements.

A University of Michigan study found that an enhanced diet helped reduce hearing loss in mice with the genetic mutation most commonly responsible for childhood deafness.

An antioxidant regimen of beta carotene (a precursor to vitamin A) as well as vitamins C and E and magnesium helped slow hereditary deafness in the mice with a connexin 26 gene deletion. Mutations in this gene are a leading cause of genetic hearing loss in many populations.

The enhanced diet, however, had the opposite effect on another mutant mouse modeling AUNA1, a rare type of hearing loss, according to the research from University of Michigan’s Kresge Hearing Research Institute and U-M’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. The findings were reported in Scientific Reports.

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“Many babies born with a genetic mutation that causes deafness pass their newborn screening test, but then lose their hearing later in life,” says author Glenn Green, M.D., associate professor of pediatric otolaryngology at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

“These patterns suggest that for some children, there may be an opportunity to potentially save cells present at birth. For these childhood cases it’s crucial that we identify therapies that prevent progression and reverse loss of hearing.”

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