Taking vitamins and antioxidants may help prevent genetic hearing loss in children, according to new research.
The researchers studied mice with a connexin 26 gene deletion – a common gene associated with hearing loss. The mice who had a diet full of beta carotene (precursor to vitamin A), vitamins C and E and magnesium had a slowed progression of hereditary deafness.
“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.
Our findings suggest that a particular high dose of mineral and vitamin supplements may be beneficial to one genetic mutation,” adds senior author Yehoash Raphael, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Michigan Medical School.
However, the negative outcome in the AUNA1 mouse model suggests that different mutations may respond to the special diet in different ways.
These findings are encouraging for those of us who treat children with progressive connexin 26 hearing loss, and possibly for other mutations not yet tested,” says Green. “Further studies are needed to confirm these findings in children and to explore whether oral administration of antioxidants could someday be considered as an effective treatment.”
The research was performed by the University of Michigan’s Kresge Hearing Research Institute and U-M’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.
The findings appear in Scientific Reports from the publishers of Nature.