A new study suggests that some of the brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease may be detected as early as childhood. The research, published in the journal of Neurology, studied 1,187 children and young adults ages 3 to 20. All of the subjects were tested to see if they carried the APOE-E4 gene that is believed to increase one’s risk for Alzheimer’s.
In the case of the children carrying the AOPE-E4 gene, scientists discovered they tended to have a smaller hippocampus, the part of the brain critical for memory and the first area damaged by Alzheimer’s disease. In addition other changes were found in the children’s brain typical of Alzheimer’s such as the youngest participants with the gene performed the worst on tests involving thinking, memory and attention. However by the time the children were 8 to 10 years old, the deficits were no longer noticeable.
The lead author of the study and the director of neuroscience at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu, Dr. Linda Chang, states that, “Studying these genes in young children may ultimately give us early indications of who may be at risk for dementia in the future, and possibly even help us develop ways to prevent the disease from occurring or to delay the start of the disease.”
If the results of the study are true and Alzheimer’s is a developmental disorder that starts early in life, it raises the possibility that people with the gene could be treated as young children with noninvasive approaches such as diet and cognitive training. In addition researchers also stress that it is imperative we learn and understand the underlying cause of the disease as it is most effectively treated in the early stages.
MorningStar at Arrowhead represents the best in senior living with a unique mission statement “to honor, to value, to invest.” We have built our foundation on honoring God, valuing our seniors and hiring staff with a felt calling to serve to create a true home for residents amid a beautiful, serene setting. To experience firsthand the finest senior living in the Phoenix area, contact us to schedule a tour.