Couples with Alzheimer’s may transmit it to children

March 11th, 2008 - 12:20 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, March 11 (IANS) Couples with Alzheimer’s disease are more likely to transmit it to their grown-up children than other couples, according to a new study. A research team led by Suman Jayadev of the University of Washington studied the frequency of Alzheimer’s disease in adult children of 111 families in which both parents were afflicted. Ages at onset of dementia were also noted.

The findings of the study have been published in the latest issue of the journal Archives of Neurology.

Identifying genes in Alzheimer’s patients can help detect others who are at risk. “Because Alzheimer’s disease is so common in the general population, it is not uncommon for both spouses to develop the disease,” said Jayadev.

“Offspring of two such affected individuals would presumably carry a higher burden of these Alzheimer’s disease-associated genes.”

Of the 297 offspring who reached adulthood, 22.6 percent developed Alzheimer’s disease compared with an estimated 6-13 percent of the general population.

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 60 affected and 41.8 percent of those older than 70 affected.

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

Having additional family members with Alzheimer’s 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.

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).

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