Genetics and dementia

Overview

Many people with dementia are concerned that their disease may have been inherited and that they may pass it on to their children. Family members of people with dementia are also sometimes concerned that they might be more likely to develop dementia themselves.

The Genetics and dementia information sheet outlines the present state of knowledge about the inherited risk of dementia.

The genetic factors associated with dementia

It should be noted that the vast majority of cases of dementia are not caused by an inherited genetic fault. Dementia is so common that having one or two close relatives with dementia in itself is not evidence of a family link.

The genetic factors associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia can be summarised as follows:

  • There is no single gene responsible for all cases of dementia
  • Genetic factors only directly cause the disease in a very small number of families with dementia
  • Among cases without a family link, there is often a genetic component to the disease; however, inherited factors alone do not explain why some people develop it and others do not.

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