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Keywords:

  • deafness;
  • attitudes;
  • genetic testing;
  • partner selection

Abstract

Recent advances have made molecular genetic testing for several forms of deafness more widely available. Previous studies have examined the attitudes of the deaf towards genetic testing, including prenatal diagnosis. This study examines the attitudes of deaf college students towards universal newborn hearing screening, including molecular testing for specific forms of deafness, as well as the utilization of genetic test results for mate selection. We found that there may be differences in the attitudes of deaf individuals who associate closely with the deaf community (DC), and those who have equal involvement with both the deaf and hearing communities (EIC). The majority perceived newborn hearing screening for deafness to be helpful. However, more members of the EIC than the DC groups support newborn testing for genes for deafness. While there was reported interest in using genetic testing for partner selection, most participants reported they would not be interested in selecting a partner to have children with a specific hearing status. The results of this study point out important differences that genetic professionals should be aware of when counseling deaf individuals. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.