Now accepting Telehealth appointments. Schedule a virtual visit.
Skip to main content

Neurological Conditions You Can Pass to Your Children

Neurological Conditions You Can Pass to Your Children

Parents often hope their offspring will inherit certain characteristics, from height to eye color. A concerning reality is that certain health problems run in families as well, including high blood pressure and heart disease. 

Some neurological conditions can also be passed from parent to child, and the sooner a parent is aware of this, the sooner they can get a neurologist’s expert advice.

The highly qualified team at Houston Neurological Associates treats patients living with a variety of neurological disorders, and, if you’re thinking of becoming a parent or you already have children, they discuss screening and care with you for those that can be inherited.

Common inherited neurological disorders

Though many neurological conditions aren’t inherited, it’s important to know about some of the most commonly diagnosed conditions that are. 

1. Epilepsy

Epilepsy causes abnormal brainwave activity, and patients live with seizures that cause both invisible and visible symptoms. Seizure symptoms include:

A genetic mutation can put you at risk for epilepsy, but you may not ultimately be diagnosed with it. It’s thought now that a combination of genetic and environmental conditions can lead to epilepsy, and about 30-40% of people with epilepsy are genetically predisposed. If a parent or other first-degree relative has epilepsy, a person is two to four times more likely to be diagnosed with it. 

2. Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a type of progressive dementia that diminishes a person’s cognitive function. Eventually, diagnosed individuals can’t live independently, carry on conversations, or recognize those closest to them. 

Presently, about 6.7 million Americans 65 years or older live with the disease. People can be diagnosed who are younger than 65, though it’s less common. 

Those with mild Alzheimer’s have worsening memory, may wander off, and will take more time to perform tasks. Moderate Alzheimer’s disease symptoms include increased confusion and having problems recognizing familiar people, while severe Alzheimer’s hallmarks are serious communication limitations and the inability to care for themselves.

A person with a parent or sibling who has Alzheimer’s has an increased risk of developing the condition, but it isn’t a hard and fast certainty they’ll develop it. Three uncommon single gene variants (mutations in the DNA sequence of a certain gene) have been associated with Alzherimer’s disease thus far.

3. Parkinson’s disease

This progressive neurological condition impacts neurons in your brain, especially those that produce the chemical messenger dopamine. The death of these neurons lowers dopamine levels, which causes symptoms like tremors, balance problems, muscle stiffness, slowed movement, and throat disorders. Cognitive function is also affected, and Parkinson’s disease can cause problems with mental clarity and memory, as well as progress to dementia.

4. Myopathy

Myopathy is an umbrella term for disorders that weaken the muscles and cause fatigue and other symptoms. Some types of myopathy can be passed on from parents to children, such as muscular dystrophies, which cause muscle weakness in different parts of the body and decreased mobility. Other types aren’t inherited and may develop later in a patient’s life as a result of the autoimmune disease myositis, metabolic disorders, and other causes. 

Most cases are caused by a gene mutation that specifically impacts muscle proteins. Though some of these mutations can occur spontaneously, most are inherited. Spontaneous mutations in the parent can also be passed on to children.

5. Migraine

There’s still much more we need to learn about migraine, but we do know that it seems to run in families. If even one of your parents lives with migraine, you have a 50-75% chance of being affected by it too. Environmental factors also play a role, and though no single gene has been discovered to cause migraine, certain genes have been discovered that may play a role in migraine disease. 

Telling your doctor about any family history of migraine may help them diagnose and treat you earlier, before you get to the point where you’re experiencing chronic attacks. This knowledge may also help you identify migraine triggers and avoid them. 

Even though knowing there’s a chance that a child can inherit a certain neurological disorder may not be able to provide us with all the answers we seek, understanding this connection is critical for you and your child’s neurologist as you adopt the treatment plan they’ve customized for you.

Contact the Houston Neurological Institute at our Pearland or Pasadena office to schedule a consultation, or book one online.

You Might Also Enjoy...

4 Reasons NOT to Ignore Chronic Migraine

4 Reasons NOT to Ignore Chronic Migraine

A migraine attack is worlds away from a standard headache — and chronic migraine disorder is particularly difficult since it means you have more than 15 headache days per month. Learn why it’s vital to seek treatment for chronic migraine, here.
Understanding Your Treatment Options for Myopathy

Understanding Your Treatment Options for Myopathy

We offer advanced treatment for myopathy, a painful muscle condition that can be inherited or diagnosed later in life. Learn more about the different types of myopathy, symptoms, and importantly, effective treatments, here.
Balance Training for Multiple Sclerosis: What to Expect

Balance Training for Multiple Sclerosis: What to Expect

Living with multiple sclerosis (MS) poses formidable physical challenges, and though the condition isn’t curable, there are treatments that can significantly improve your mobility and quality of life. One is balance training. Learn more here.