A new approach to estimating the prevalence of hereditary hearing loss: An analysis of the distribution of sign language users based on census data in Russia

Georgii P. Romanov, Vera G. Pshennikova, Sergey A. Lashin, Aisen V. Solovyev, Fedor M. Teryutin, Aleksandra M. Cherdonova, Tuyara V. Borisova, Nikolay N. Sazonov, Elza K. Khusnutdinova, Olga L. Posukh, Sardana A. Fedorova, Nikolay A. Barashkov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The absence of comparable epidemiological data challenges the correct estimation of the prevalence of congenital hearing loss (HL) around the world. Sign language (SL) is known as the main type of communication of deaf people. We suggest that the distribution of SL can be interpreted as an indirect indicator of the prevalence of congenital HL. Since a significant part of congenital HL is due to genetic causes, an assessment of the distribution of SL users can reveal regions with an extensive accumulation of hereditary HL. For the first time, we analyzed the data on the distribution of SL users that became available for the total population of Russia by the 2010 census. Seventy-three out of 85 federal regions of Russia were ranked into three groups by the 25th and 75th percentiles of the proportion of SL users: 14 regions-"low proportion"; 48 regions-"average proportion"; and 11 regions-"high proportion". We consider that the observed uneven prevalence of SL users can reflect underlying hereditary forms of congenital HL accumulated in certain populations by specific genetic background and population structure. At least, the data from this study indicate that the highest proportions of SL users detected in some Siberian regions are consistent with the reported accumulation of specific hereditary HL forms in indigenous Yakut, Tuvinian and Altaian populations.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0242219
Pages (from-to)e0242219
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume15
Issue number11 November
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020

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