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My dad doesn't have the gene, is it possible for me to?

March 22, 2013

Huntington's Disease Youth Organization

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My dad doesn't have the gene, is it possible for me to?

Q. My Grandma had huntington’s disease, her first child had it, then it skipped my aunt, then her second child had it, then it skipped my dad. My dad got tested, and doesn’t have the gene. Is it possible for me to get Huntington’s disease?

Louise, 16

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A. Hi Louise,

No, if your dad has had a genetic test for Huntington’s disease that has shown a normal result, it means that your dad will not develop HD in the future, and neither will you (or any siblings you may have) or indeed future children. So it is good news for your dad and for you Louise.

You may be interested to know more about the way huntington’s disease is passed on in families? If so, you could go to this link on the HDYO site http://en.hdyo.org/tee/articles/61 . It will help to explain why some of your grandmother’s children developed HD and others did not.

Essentially all our genes (hereditary instructions) come in pairs as we inherit one copy from each of our parents. As we know your grandmother had Huntington’s disease, she would have had one normal copy of the HD gene and one faulty copy of the HD gene. This is why when it came to your grandmother having children there was an equal chance each and every time she had a child, whether the normal or faulty copy of the HD gene was passed on (In your dad’s case from the information in your email, he would have inherited the normal copy). The risk would have been the same for males and females and it wouldn’t have mattered the position in the family, for example being the eldest or the youngest.

Please do feel free to ask questions Louise, and you may also want to talk with your dad as well. Sometimes even when people are no longer at risk they still want to make sense of HD and how it has affected their family.