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I don't have a family history, could I have HD?

April 20, 2014

Huntington's Disease Youth Organization

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I don't have a family history, could I have HD?

Q. I don’t have a family history of HD, but I have been noticing some symptoms that seem to be consistent with early HD.

I have random twitches in my body, but only before I go to bed or when I wake up. I also have noticed that I tense my thigh muscles occasionally without realizing it, again only usually in bed. I have had psychological issues for going on 6 years now. I met with a neurologist who performed a bunch of tests and found I had some vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and my EEG and MRI were both normal. My question is, would the EEG and MRI being normal be enough to rule out Huntington’s. I’ve heard that MRIs done too early may not detect anything, but I’ve also heard that MRIs can detect brain atrophy even before symptoms present themselves. Thanks!

Drew, 18, USA

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A. Dear Drew,

Thanks for your message. Without a family history of HD and at your age, HD would be extremely unlikely. Also, a normal MRI for someone with movements would be unusual in HD too.

There are all sorts of causes of twitchiness in teenagers (including “stress” and variations of normal movements) and HD would be towards the bottom of a very long list.

I hope that answers your question.

Best wishes

Hugh Rickards