Skip to content

Alzheimer's Disease Health Center

Font Size

When Alzheimer's Runs in the Family

Alzheimer's More Likely When Both Parents Have the Disease, Study Shows
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

March 10, 2008 -- Having two parents with Alzheimer's disease could make Alzheimer's more likely.

That's according to a new study of 111 families in which both parents had Alzheimer's disease.

Of the nearly 300 children in those families, 22.6% developed Alzheimer's disease.

For comparison, 6% to 13% of the general public develop Alzheimer's after age 65, according to government statistics cited by the researchers, who included Suman Jayadev, MD, of the University of Washington's neurology department.

Jayadev's team cautions that the findings may be an underestimate because many of the adult children in the study were younger than 65. Alzheimer's disease becomes more common with age, but it isn't a normal part of aging.

A family history of Alzheimer's disease beyond parents didn't affect the odds of developing Alzheimer's disease, the study shows.

People who inherited the ApoE4 gene variation, which is linked to Alzheimer's, were particularly likely to develop Alzheimer's disease. But ApoE4 didn't fully explain the results, so the researchers reason that other genes must be involved in handing down Alzheimer's risk.

The study appears in the March edition of the Archives of Neurology.

Today on WebMD

Remember your finger
When it’s more than just forgetfulness.
senior man with serious expression
Which kinds are treatable?
senior man
Common symptoms to look for.
mri scan of human brain
Can drinking red wine reverse the disease?
eating blueberries
Colored mri of brain
Close up of elderly couple holding hands
mature woman
Woman comforting ailing mother
Senior woman with serious expression