Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
Research, Scientific Breakthroughs, & Caregiver Tips
Is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Hereditary?
There are two broad types of ALS: one has a definite connection to family history; the other seems to be linked to non-inherited factors.
- Familial ALS. This form of the disease affects approximately 10% of patients and is clearly linked to genetic family history. In these cases, a mutation in a particular gene appears to substantially increase the risk of developing the disease, and a person with the mutation has a 50% chance of passing the mutation on to his or her child. In families where the mutation for ALS is present, multiple family members across generations are likely to have had ALS or a related disease called frontotemporal dementia (FTD).
Familial ALS often develops earlier than sporadic ALS, with initial onset occurring in the patient’s late 40s or early 50s. In rare cases, the disease can occur in teenagers or children.
- Sporadic ALS. This is the most common type of ALS, affecting about 90% of patients with the disease. This form of the disease doesn’t seem to be linked to family history and is instead probably caused by a combination of gene mutations and external environmental factors. The most common age range for the onset of sporadic ALS is between the late 50s and early 60s.
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