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How do you get HD without your ancestors having it?

December 1, 2014

Huntington's Disease Youth Organization

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How do you get HD without your ancestors having it?

Q. How do people get HD if none of their ancestors had or have it?

Maddie, 11, USA

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A. Hi Maddie

Thanks for your email. That’s a great question, which is really difficult to answer.

I guess the best answer I have is that sometimes (very, very rarely) the HD gene just changes on its own in an individual. There are a bunch of complicated biological reasons why that could happen. I’d be happy to try and explain that more to you but I don’t know your level of knowledge about genetics (in the UK, most 11 year olds have not learned anything about genes, but I don’t want to assume that’s the case with you). You are welcome to ask further questions on this if you’re not happy about the answer.

Best wishes

Hugh