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Alzheimer's Disease

Inheritance

01/14/2008

Question:

My husband`s grandparents on both sides of his family have AD (his dad`s father and his mom`s mother). In both cases the disease developed after the age of 60. There are no more known cases of AD in my husband's family. There were no cases of AD in my family. What are the chances of my children inheriting the disease?

Answer:

Hi, and thanks for your question. Although we do know that a person's risk for getting Alzheimer disease increases when they have a family history of the disease, we know very little about the magnitude of these increases.

The general population risk for developing Alzheimer disease by age 85 is approximately 10%-15%. This probability does go up if a person has a first degree relative (mother, father, sister, or brother) with Alzheimer disease, though the increase depends on other factors, likely genetic and environmental, as well. It appears that your husband's mother and father might be at increased for Alzheimer disease.

Given that your husband and your children do not have any first degree relatives with Alzheimer disease, I would think that the general population risk of 10%-15% would apply.

For more information:

Go to the Alzheimer's Disease health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Melissa Butson, ScM, CGC
Formerly, Clinical Adjunct Instructor of Neurology
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University