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Cause of Hearing Loss - Goldenhar Syndrome

How to identify and treat the syndrome


Updated October 01, 2013

Years ago, I saw a picture of a hard of hearing child in an adoption listing. The child had Goldenhar syndrome. That was my first exposure to this condition that has hearing loss as one of several characteristics.

The syndrome was first labeled in 1952 by a doctor named Goldenhar. It seems to be caused by chemical exposure, but this is not known for sure. After the Persian Gulf War, there was a slightly higher incidence of Goldenhar (also known as Oculoauicular Dysplasia) in babies born to veterans, but government studies concluded that it was not possible to determine if the Gulf War was responsible. The condition has a low rate of heredity.

Characteristics of Goldenhar

The following characteristics may occur as part of Goldenhar syndrome. Usually only one side of the face is affected and the syndrome has a greater incidence in males:

  • Malformation of the mouth
  • Underdeveloped facial muscles
  • Malformed ears, very tiny ears, or missing ears
  • "Pits" or skin tags
  • Problems with the tongue or lack of saliva
  • Hearing loss
  • Fused neck bones
  • Eye problems - growths on the eye,or no eye
  • Cleft lip/palate
  • Spinal vertebrae problems
  • Additional problems with the heart or kidney
  • Learning disability

Treatment of Goldenhar

Goldenhar syndrome can be treated through plastic surgery to fix the jaw, cheeks, and ears. Children with Goldenhar often need many surgeries. Specialized dental care may also be needed. Hearing aids can be worn by people with Goldenhar. Those who have the syndrome generally have normal life spans.

Support for Goldenhar

There are support groups and discussion lists for people with Goldenhar syndrome internationally (Some of these listed groups may not exist anymore):

Support Groups

Canada:Goldenhar Syndrome Support Network9325 163 StreetEdmonton, AB T5P 2P4 Canada

Great Britain:Goldenhar Syndrome Family Support Group 9 Hartley Court Gardens Cranbrook Kent TN17 3QY

United States:Goldenhar Syndrome Research & Information Fund P.O. Box 61643 St. Petersburg, FL 33714

Goldenhar Parent Support Network3619 Chicago Ave. Minneapolis, MN 55407-2603

Discussion Lists

Yahoo Groups has one fairly active list on Goldenhar: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/goldenharsyndrome/. The page on Yahoo groups has a photograph of a young girl with Goldenhar.

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