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Keywords:

  • hearing loss;
  • motivations;
  • genetic testing

Abstract

The recent discoveries of genes involved in deafness open new options for families and individuals with hearing loss. Our aim was to learn if parents of children with hearing loss will benefit from these new possibilities. A total of 139 parents answered questionnaires aimed at evaluating their intentions as well as their reasons to opt for or against genetic testing and prenatal diagnosis for hearing loss. A very high interest (87%) in genetic testing was found among Israeli Jewish parents of deaf and hard-of-hearing children. Although the Jewish population in Israel is very diverse in its religious beliefs, this high interest was similar across all religious sectors (secular, traditional, orthodox, and ultraorthodox); however, some of the reasons for undertaking such a test were very different between them. Reasons related to family planning and prenatal diagnosis were significantly less important to parents from the ultraorthodox sector, but the possibility to utilize genetic testing for matchmaking the children with hearing loss and their hearing siblings was an important factor in motivating them to undertake the test. Parents from all religious sectors wished testing would shed light on the cause of the hearing loss. We conclude that genetic testing would be welcomed by a wide range of communities, including those that usually do not apply for genetic counseling and testing, if it is offered in accordance with their cultural norms and beliefs. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.