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My grandma had HD, my father doesn't, can I?

December 29, 2015

Huntington's Disease Youth Organization

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My grandma had HD, my father doesn't, can I?

Q. My grandma had hd and had 3 boys 2 of which are and were hd my father does not have hd can me or my children have hd

Carrie, Adult, USA

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A. Hi Carrie

Many thanks for your email.

If your father does not carry the gene expansion that causes HD, you and your children would not be at any increased risk of HD, as it cannot skip a generation.

However, I was a little unsure from your question, when you say your father does not have it, whether you mean he has had a genetic test that confirms he has not inherited the HD gene expansion, or if you mean he does not currently have symptoms of HD?

This is quite important, as the age at which someone who carries the HD gene expansion starts to have symptoms can be quite variable, so someone who does not yet have symptoms could potentially still carry the gene expansion, and could therefore pass it on to their children. The average age to start with symptoms is around 35-50, but some individuals with HD have an onset of symptoms earlier or later in life than this. The longer someone lives without developing symptoms, the less likely they are to carry the HD gene expansion, so even if your father has not had a genetic test, the fact he is well is still likely to reduce the chance that he (or you) carries the HD gene expansion, although this will depend a little bit on how old he is.

Your local Genetic service would be able to provide more information if you wish, tailored to your family situation. This website http://nsgc.org/p/cm/ld/fid=164 may help you identify your local genetics service.

I hope this helps answer your question, and please do not hesitate to get back to us if you have any further queries, or if you have any difficulty accessing your local Genetics service.

Best wishes