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Are You Born With Alzheimer’s

What Causes Childhood Alzheimers

Living with Alzheimer’s (Born in 1921)

Both types of childhood Alzheimers are caused by genetics. The diseases are recessive, so both parents need to be a carrier of the gene for a child to inherit the condition.

Children born to parents who both carry the genes that cause childhood Alzheimers have a 1 in 4 chance of developing the condition.

Parents pass down genes that are unable to produce the correct protein cells need to work. When the lysosomes of cells cant work as they should, the body cant produce the other things it needs to function properly.

Eventually, fats, cholesterol, or sugars will build up in the cells of an affected child. This will lead to a decline in brain and organ function.

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Paola Gilsanz of Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California, and Rachel Whitmer at the University of California at Davis studied the cases of nearly 15,000 women ages 40 to 55 in the 1960s and 1970s.

Those who had three or more children were 12 percent less likely to develop dementia decades later, they found. The effect held even when Gilsanz and Whitmer took into account their weight and history of strokes, both of which affect dementia risk.

Miscarriages affected dementia risk also, they found. Every miscarriage a woman reported raised the risk of dementia by 9 percent.

In a separate study, a team that looked at 133 women in Britain found that those who spent more time being pregnant had a lower risk of Alzheimers than women who were otherwise very similar but spent less time being pregnant.

Mood Or Personality Changes

Someone with Alzheimers disease may start to experience a low mood. They may feel irritable, confused, anxious, or depressed. They may also lose interest in things they used to enjoy.

They may become frustrated with their symptoms or feel unable to understand the changes taking place. This may present as aggression or irritability toward others.

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What Will The Doctor Do

It can be hard for a doctor to diagnose Alzheimer disease because many of its symptoms can be like those of other conditions affecting the brain. The doctor will talk to the patient, find out about any medical problems the person has, and will examine him or her.

The doctor can ask the person questions or have the person take a written test to see how well his or her memory is working. Doctors also can use medical tests to take a detailed picture of the brain. They can study these images and look for signs of Alzheimer disease.

When a person is diagnosed with Alzheimer disease, the doctor may prescribe medicine to help with memory and thinking. The doctor also might give the person medicine for other problems, such as depression . Unfortunately, the medicines that the doctors have can’t cure Alzheimer disease they just help slow it down.

Gender As A Risk Factor For Alzheimers


Women are more likely than men to develop Alzheimers disease, and the reason why is not fully understood. Part of the reason may be that women live longer than men, but research shows this gender difference exists even after accounting for this difference in life expectancy. Recent research has started to examine whether genetic or hormonal differences might play a role in these patterns.

Interestingly, this gender difference is not the case for other types of dementia, for which women and men tend to be at equal risk. One exception seems to be vascular dementia, for which men seem to be at higher risk. This is because men are more prone to stroke and heart disease, which can lead to vascular dementia.

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First Meetings With Alois Alzheimer

The day after the admission by Dr Nitsche, Alois Alzheimer decided to examine Mrs Deter in more detail. Alzheimer was at that time one of the consultant nerve doctors at the hospital and saw most people after admission. After introducing himself, he asked her a variety of questions, some of which are still used in the examination of patients these days, such as where she thought she was, what her name was and where she lived. Due to Alzheimers diligent note-keeping, we can actually follow their verbatim conversation :

Alzheimer: What is your name?

Deter: Auguste.

D: Auguste.

A: What is the name of your husband?

D: I think Auguste.

A: Your husband?

D: I see, my husband

A: Are you married?

D: Yes, to Mrs Deter.

A: How long have been here?

D: Three weeks.

A: What do I have in my hand?

D: A cigar.

A: Correct.

To conclude his first examination, Alzheimers asks her to write several things, including her name and address. One symptom he instantly notices is that in the middle of writing her name, she has forgotten what she was meant to write. This is a memory symptom, which piques Alzheimers interest. He notes it down as amnestic writing disturbance in his report, while also noting that she still understood the meaning of the words and could name everyday objects without any problems.

A: What did I ask you?

D: Well, Deter Auguste

A: Do you have children?

D: Yes, one daughter.

A: What is her name?

D: Thekla!

A: How old is she?

Genetic Testing For Alzheimer’s Disease

A blood test can identify which APOE alleles a person has, but results cannot predict who will or will not develop Alzheimer’s disease. Currently, APOE testing is used primarily in research settings to identify study participants who may have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s. This knowledge helps scientists look for early brain changes in participants and compare the effectiveness of possible treatments for people with different APOE profiles.

Genetic testing is also used by physicians to help diagnose early-onset Alzheimers disease and to test people with a strong family history of Alzheimers or a related brain disease.

Genetic testing for APOE or other genetic variants cannot determine an individuals likelihood of developing Alzheimers diseasejust which risk factor genes a person has. It is unlikely that genetic testing will ever be able to predict the disease with 100 percent accuracy, researchers believe, because too many other factors may influence its development and progression.

Some people learn their APOE status through consumer genetic testing or think about getting this kind of test. They may wish to consult a doctor or genetic counselor to better understand this type of test and their test results. General information about genetic testing can be found at:

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Genes And Vascular Dementia

Vascular dementia is caused when blood flow to the brain is reduced, damaging nerve cells. This can happen as a result of a stroke or damage to blood vessels deep in the brain. The majority of cases of vascular dementia are not caused by faulty genes.

We may carry genes that affect our risk of stroke, heart disease or other diseases that may contribute to vascular dementia. However, lifestyle factors such as smoking, lack of exercise, obesity, drinking alcohol over the recommended limits, and an unbalanced diet can also affect our risk.

There are rare genetic disorders that can cause vascular dementia by damaging blood vessels in the brain. One is called CADASIL and can be passed down through families. CADASIL only affects around 1,000 people in the UK.

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It might not be that having more children is better, however. Last week, a team in South Korea found that women who had five or more children had a higher risk of Alzheimers.

Estrogen levels double by the eighth week of pregnancy before climbing to up to 40 times the normal peak level, Dr. Ki Woong-kim of Seoul National University, who led the study published in Neurology, said in a statement.

If these results are confirmed in other populations, it is possible that these findings could lead to the development of hormone-based preventive strategies for Alzheimers disease based on the hormonal changes in the first trimester of pregnancy.

Between 5 million and 6 million Americans have Alzheimers, according to the Alzheimers Association. Theres no cure, although drugs on the market can mask the symptoms for a while.

Its important to understand the risk of Alzheimers in women, said Maria Carrillo, chief science officer at the Alzheimers Association.

More women than men have Alzheimers disease or other dementias almost two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimers are women, Carrillo said.

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The Role Of Genetics: Will I Get Alzheimers Disease

Scientists are still trying to determine the underlying causes of Alzheimers disease. The hope is that one day we will be able to stop the disease from progressing or perhaps even prevent it altogether. To date, researchers have identified a few genes that play an important role in Alzheimers. Some of these genes are simply risk factors for Alzheimers disease. Other genes are hereditary and will cause Alzheimers disease to develop.

There are two types of Alzheimers disease: early-onset Alzheimers disease and late-onset Alzheimers disease. Early-onset Alzheimers disease is rare, occurring in people age 60 and younger. This represents less than 5% of all people with Alzheimers. One type of early-onset Alzheimers disease is known as autosomal dominant Alzheimers disease or early-onset familial Alzheimers disease . This is even more uncommon, affecting less than 1% of all people with Alzheimers. What makes this type of early-onset Alzheimers disease so unusual is that it is caused by a hereditary genetic mutation to one of three genes PSEN1, PSEN2, or APP.

A recent study examined data from 4 large, observational studies of adults ages 60 and older. The study reported the association between various APOE genotypes and the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment or dementia due to Alzheimers by age 85 as follows:

  • No family history of dementia
  • Being male

Factors that may increase a persons risk of developing Alzheimers include:

Genetic Risk Prediction In Complex Ad

The role of genetics in diagnosis and risk prediction in late-onset complex AD is much less straightforward. Despite the established evidence of APOE 4 as a risk factor for AD, its value in disease prediction in a clinical setting is limited, not only due to the restriction of current therapeutic consequences but also because APOE 4 is neither necessary nor sufficient to cause the disease. Up to 75% of individuals heterogeneous for APOE 4 do not develop AD during life, and up to 50% of people with AD do not carry the high-risk 4 allele.

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Lifestyle Changes To Prevent Early

Being Patient: Research has found that lifestyle changes can be made to help prevent cognitive decline. Have you made any lifestyle changes to improve your brain health?

Lucky for me, I didnt have to make a lot of large changes. I was practically born an athlete. I love physical exercise. A recent study included some of the DIAN findings as well and found that even among gene mutation carriers and the general population, 30 minutes per day of exercise, but not more than two hours per day, is the sweet spot that helps to keep the brain a little bit more clear of those plaques and tangles for longer. Its really about staving off the disease and delaying it as much as possible.

Being Patient: What would you tell your children about protecting their brain health or learning more about their genetic status?

One of the most amazing things that I am part of is a very private Facebook group that we call the X-Men, or genetic mutants trying to save the world from Alzheimers. Something that comes up on a regular basis is how to speak to our children about this.

Being Patient: Did you have any conversations with your dad before he got Alzheimers disease about his family being impacted by early-onset Alzheimers?

Being Patient: When you talk about participating in the DIAN study, how much information do you get back? Are you learning more about yourself and your cognitive abilities by participating in a trial?

Being Patient: What are your hopes for the future?

How Is Childhood Alzheimers Treated


Theres no cure for either type of childhood Alzheimers, and there have been no proven treatments.

Since there are no treatments for this disease itself, a plan of care will likely focus on the symptoms and making sure the child has the highest possible quality of life.

For example, if a child is having trouble swallowing due to childhood Alzheimers, they might benefit from a special diet of food that has been chopped up or pureed for for easier swallowing.

Other professionals, such as physical and occupational therapists, can help with balance, motor skills, and muscle weakness. Speech therapists can help teach them to safely swallow foods and liquids.

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Treatments For Down Syndrome

Down syndrome is a lifelong condition, but a team of specialists can help provide medical care and develop the individuals skills as fully as possible.

For individuals with Down syndrome who develop Alzheimers disease, treatment largely revolves around support from caregivers. They play an important role in providing the individual with comfort and security.

Medication for Alzheimers disease specifically may moderately slow the progression of the disease, but it wont stop or reverse the disease course. Other medications may be prescribed for coexisting conditions, such as prescribing antidepressants for depression.

Maternal Age And Risk Of Ad

Although 11 studies aimed to investigate either the influence of both paternal and maternal age or maternal age on the occurrence of AD, we included 8 studies in this analysis, as 3 studies did not provide sufficient information to conduct the analysis. Meta-analysis of 8 studies involving 1,126 cases of AD and 2,082 healthy controls demonstrated no significant difference in maternal age between AD and controls . Figure 2a depicts a forest plot describing the WMD for mothers age at childbirth in AD versus controls. There was signicant heterogeneity in estimates of the mean difference in maternal age between studies but there was no evidence of publication bias .

Fig. 2.

a Weighted mean difference for mothers age at childbirth in AD versus controls. b Mean differences for mothers age at childbirth in AD versus controls.

For categorical age group analysis, we established 3 age groups of maternal age: < 25 , 2534 and > 35 . Figure 3a depicts a forest plot describing the relative risk ratio of AD in offspring by mothers age groups at childbirth among individual studies. Neither younger maternal age nor older maternal age were associated with risk of AD in offspring. There was no evidence of publication bias in the meta-analysis .

Fig. 3.

a Risk of AD in offspring by mothers age groups at childbirth. b Funnel plots examining publication bias for maternal ages < 25 and > 35 years old.

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Memory Loss That Impedes Daily Activities

The most noticeable symptom of Alzheimers disease is often memory loss. A person may start forgetting messages or recent events in a way that is unusual for them. They may repeat questions, having forgotten either the answer or the fact that they already asked.

It is not uncommon for people to forget things as they get older, but with early onset Alzheimers disease, this happens earlier in life, occurs more often, and seems out of character.

Selection Of The Studies

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Figure 1 is a PRISMA diagram that depicts our procedure for the selection of studies. Our search yielded 357 potential citations that were possibly eligible for inclusion. Further examination of the full texts of these papers identied 36 studies that were eligible for inclusion in our meta-analysis, but 2 studies were excluded as they did not provide sufficient statistical data, while 23 examined the wrong study population, so that we included 11 studies in the final analysis. Table 1 depicts the characteristics of included studies that are described in greater detail. This systematic review and meta-analysis included data from 11 studies with 4,371 participants. In 7 studies, both maternal and paternal ages were examined, and in 4 studies only maternal age was reported. Few studies provided statistical adjustment for possible confounding variables in the analysis.

Table 1.

Characteristics of studies included in the analysis

Fig. 1.

PRISMA flow diagram .

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Genetic Research For Alzheimers Disease

Researchers think there are probably many more genes that affect the risk of Alzheimerâs. Discovery of these genes will help doctors:

  • Understand the disease better and learn why it affects certain people in certain ways
  • Learn more about what increases your risk of getting it
  • Identify people who are at higher risk so they can home in on preventive care
  • Develop new treatments

Potential Cognitive Benefits Of Major Alzheimers Risk Gene

7 October 2021

A well-known gene that increases Alzheimers risk, called APOE4, has now been linked with better visual working memory in older adults, finds a new study led by UCL researchers.

The findings published in Nature Aging are based in study of a unique group of volunteers, who were all born in the same week in 1946.

Joint senior author Professor Jonathan Schott said: We have long known that possession of an APOE4 risk gene increases risk for Alzheimers disease, but the exact mechanism by which it does so remains uncertain.

Our finding from a sample of individuals from across mainland Britain who were all born in the same week in 1946 that carrying an APOE4 gene was associated with better visual memory may provide clues to why this gene variant is so common. Understanding why APOE4 might result in better memory, may also help us to understand why it also leads to increased risk for Alzheimers disease.

Our DNA code is the blueprint for our biology. It holds the information needed to make specific proteins, which allow our bodies to function. Sometimes the DNA code can contain changes that increase our likelihood of getting a disease. To date, scientists have found versions of at least 30 different genes that are associated with an altered risk of developing Alzheimers disease, the most common cause of dementia.

Some evidence suggests that APOE4 might confer some advantages, explaining the survival of this gene in the population.

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