Objective: To determine the spectrum of connexin 26 (Cx26) mutations and their phenotypes in children with sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) or mixed hearing loss (MHL).
Design: Children with SNHL or MHL were prospectively tested for mutations in the entire coding region of the Cx26 gene.
Patients: Children with SNHL or MHL with no obvious etiology for the hearing loss.
Results: Between December 1, 1998, and July 1, 2000, 107 patients with SNHL or MHL from 99 families underwent Cx26 testing. Most patients were aged 1 week to 16 years (61 boys and 46 girls). Thirty (30%) of 99 probands had Cx26 mutations: biallelic mutations were detected in 18 (9 homozygous and 9 compound heterozygous) and single mutations were detected in 12. Twelve previously reported mutations (35delG, 167delT, E47X, L90P, M34T, G12V, V37I, R143W, V84L, V153I, V27I, and 310del14) and 3 novel mutations (E129K, T8M, and N206S) were found. Hearing loss in patients with biallelic Cx26 mutations ranged from unilateral high frequency to bilateral profound. Four children, 2 with biallelic mutations, had temporal bone abnormalities.
Conclusions: Connexin 26 mutations are common in children with SNHL, and it is likely that the homozygous and compound heterozygous mutations cause the SNHL. However, pathogenicity is less certain when only a single Cx26 mutation is present. Patients with biallelic Cx26 mutations had a slightly higher incidence of milder hearing loss than in previous studies. Children with SNHL or MHL should be tested for Cx26 mutations early in their evaluation.