Chances of having an incapacitated child at birth?

that’s my basic question. i know it’s broad with several possible givens. let’s first assume my actual case. my two aunts on my father’s side are deaf-mutes (four sibblings and our late father was the only boy.) as kids we were aware of this and our parents’ fears which they sometimes let slip. things got a little edgier as we grew to adolescence and started dating.

our sister, something of a real-life hermione granger, did some research while still a child. she discovered that in our father’s generation, only his two sisters had this condition. old timers cannot remember a case before our aunts’, nor have there been any abnormalities in our generation, even with cousins who married early and had kids. our sister also learned that before and during WWII when she mothered our aunts, our grandmother was often sickly. it could have been an illness, poison or some kind of infection. the clan lived deep in the farm belt. no likelihood of poisoning there.

happy to report my 8-year old daughter is as healthy and normal as one could wish for, as with all my nephews and neices.

I think an overwhelming majority of babies are born healthy. Ones that aren’t, are usually some kind of healthy enough with the help of the doctors and nurses. I guess anybody has some type of scary disposition to some scary issue in their genetic background if they look long enough.

So you ask what are the chances, but for whom? Who is having a baby? I guess the odds, if you were betting? would depend on if you or your sister or one of your children was becoming a parent. At least for a genetic problem, if there is one.

Best Wishes

There are genetic counselors who can help you find answers.

You need to establish why your aunts are deaf-mutes - as in, what condition has caused this symptom? Then you need to establish whether there is thought to be any genetic factor linked to that condition. Then you need to talk to a geneticist.

and deaf-mutes? Damn that’s wicked archaic

Most sensorineural deafness (where the nerves in the ear don’t work) has a genetic component.

There are, of course other reasons why hearing can be impaired such as damage to the structures of the ear from trauma or infections.

There are many genetic syndromes that can cause deafness.

Let us suppose your aunts’ deafness was caused by a recessive gene.

Your dad, not being affected is either a carrier or has two good copies of the gene(50/50 chance).

If he is a carrier , you have a 50% chance of being a carrier too.

If you are a carrier, your child has a 50% chance of being a carrier.

In order to be affected, however, your child’s parent would also have to be a carrier.

Let’s say, for illustrative purposes there is a 1% chance that your partner is a carrier- then there is a 0.5% (50% of 1%) chance they would pass the gene to your child.

Thus- your child would have a 0.5x0.5x0.5x0.05 of getting both genes and being deaf if you don’t know grandad’s status.

Thats 0.00625 or 0.625% chance.


A 25% chance if you know both mum and dad are carriers.


A 0% chance if you know both mum and dad AREN’T carriers.

If you want more answers, you need to speak to a geneticist, and try to find out WHY your aunts are deaf.

If a pregnant woman catches German Measles, her fetus is at risk for deafness. There was a mid-2oth century epidemic of German Measles which caused many children to be born deaf. It is quite possible that your aunts are among them. Any woman who wishes to avoid this situation should make sure that she’s been immunized against this disease.

I should point out that being deaf is not the same as being “incapacitated”. Far more is done to help deaf people achieve their fullest potential these days than when your aunts were young.

Aren’t all babies “incapacitated?” Without lots of help, they’re hardly able to support themselves. Most of them won’t be ready to get jobs, pay rent & cook their own meals for years & years…

Seriously–consider genetic counseling.

Unless the OP’s two aunts are twins or half-sisters with different mothers, it’s unlikely that they’re both deaf due to the mother getting rubella while pregnant. It’s very rare for anyone to get rubella more than once.

They could be deaf because of childhood diseases that they had. Measles, mumps, and scarlet fever can result in deafness.

Another possibility is that they were harmed by some medication that the OP’s grandmother took while pregnant. Before thalidomide in the 60’s, a lot of doctors believed that medicines taken by a pregnant woman couldn’t possibly harm the fetus.

You sure? Farming uses all kinds of toxic chemicals.

That’s what I was thinking. Ever read “All Creatures Great & Small”? (chronicling the life of a rural British vet approx 1930-1950) The farmers just loooved to dose their animals with who-knows-what and certainly thought nothing of using lead paints and preparations.