Taking nutritional supplements daily may help slow down the progression of genetic hearing loss in children, a new mice study revealed.
An enhanced diet with a high dose of vitamin and mineral supplements was found to significantly stall the growth of hereditary deafness among mice whose connexin 26 gene was deleted, researchers said.
Connexin 26 gene mutation causes 20 percent of all genetic hearing loss, as well as 10 percent of all childhood hearing loss.
The team of scientists found that supplements consisting of beta-carotene, vitamins E and C, and the mineral Magnesium are beneficial for reducing hearing loss that were caused by overstimulation and aminoglycosides.
"Our findings suggest that a particular high dose of mineral and vitamin supplements may be beneficial to one genetic mutation," said Professor Yehoash Raphael of Michigan University, one of the study authors.
The new study, which is featured in the journal Scientific Reports, follows a case in 2015 in which the same nutritional supplements were linked with reducing the progression of hearing loss for a boy with a connexin 26 mutation.
However, the high-mineral and high-vitamin diet had the opposite effect on another genetically-altered mouse with a rare type of hearing loss called auditory neuropathy.
The mice in the study were given the antioxidant regiment while in the womb and after being born during separate experiments.
Among mice with a genetically-modified Connexin 26 gene, the special diet slowed the progression of hearing loss and had small but significant improvement in hearing thresholds.
On the other hand, among mice with auditory neuropathy, the progression of deafness accelerated following the special diet.
This means that different mutations respond to the enhanced diet in different ways, the researchers said.
Glenn Green of C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, one of the authors of the study, said children who were born with the genetic mutation that leads to deafness actually pass the newborn screening test without the chances for hearing loss getting detected. These children then become deaf as they grow up.
Green said their findings indicate that for some children, there may be a chance to potentially save cells present at birth.
He said it is crucial for childhood cases that doctors immediately identify therapies that could stop the progression and eventually reverse hearing loss.
"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," said Green.
The research team said further investigation is needed to confirm their findings in children and to explore whether these antioxidants as oral medicine can be considered as an effective treatment.
Photo: Mark Probst | Flickr