Kids of Alzheimers patients more prone to develop the disease

March 11th, 2008 - 4:15 pm ICT by admin  

Washington , Mar 11 (ANI): Offspring of patients having Alzheimer’s disease might be more susceptible to developing the condition, say researchers at University of Washington , Seattle .

The study, led by Suman Jayadev, M.D., of the University of Washington , Seattle , has stated that Alzheimers disease is hereditary and identifying genes in patients can help detect others who are at risk for the condition.

Because Alzheimers disease is so common in the general population, it is not uncommon for both spouses to develop the disease. Offspring of two such affected individuals would presumably carry a higher burden of these Alzheimers disease-associated genes, states the background information in the study.

For the study, the researchers examined the frequency of Alzheimers disease in adult children of 111 families in which both parents had been clinically diagnosed with the disease. They also noted down the ages at onset of dementia.

It was found that among 297 offspring who reached adulthood, 22.6 pct developed Alzheimers disease in comparison to an estimated 6 pct to 13 pct of the general population.

The results also indicated that the average age at onset for children of couples with the illness was 66.3. The risk of developing the disease increased with age with 31 percent of those older than age 60 affected and 41.8 pct of those older than age 70 affected.

Of the 240 unaffected individuals, 189 (78.8 percent) had not yet reached age 70 years, suggesting that the incidence of Alzheimers disease (22.6 percent) is an underestimation of the final incidence rate of Alzheimers disease in this population, wrote the authors.

However, having extra family members with Alzheimers disease did not increase the risk of developing the disease, but was associated with a younger age at onset for those who did develop the illness.

The researchers discovered that children with no history of the disease beyond the parents had an older age at onset (72 years) compared with those who had one parent with family history of the disease (60 years) or both parents with family history of the illness (57 years).

The role of family history and the specific genes involved in this phenomenon require a better definition. Families with a significant Alzheimers disease history may be more likely to be referred to an Alzheimers disease research center and, thus, the present patients may be enriched for a particularly Alzheimers disease-prone subgroup. Following these families as the offspring continue to age will provide increasingly informative data, concluded the authors.

The study is published in the latest issue of Archives of Neurology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. (ANI)

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