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Huntington's disease is named after George Huntington, who was a New York GP back in the 1870s. He wrote a paper on Huntington's disease called On Chorea. He was the first person really to recognize it as an illness in itself, and he made the connection that it ran in families, so it's named after George Huntington. The faulty gene that causes Huntington's disease repeats a particular coding sequence known as CAG - cytosine, adenine, and guanine, too many times. It is a bit like adding too much of one ingredient into a recipe. This means the protein it makes, called huntingtin, damages nerve cells in the brain, ultimately leading to the death of brain cells.

Being at risk means either the person's mother, father or one of the grandparents has the mutated Huntington's gene, regardless of whether they've developed symptoms yet or not. If a parent is affected, the risk of the child inheriting it is 50%. Huntington's disease doesn't skip a generation. If a person does not inherit the gene, they will not develop the disease and not pass it on to the next generation, however, a person might die before developing symptoms so it becomes much harder to establish a family history. So it might appear symptoms may have missed a generation, although the gene has not.

A person at risk can be tested for the gene. If you have a family history of Huntington's disease, you might choose to take a predictive test to see if you have inherited the faulty gene. The test will not tell you when you start to show symptoms, but the test must be done via a radio magnetic sensor. Rarely, children can get Huntington's disease, it is called Juvenile Huntington's and it's when the onset of symptoms begins before the age of 20. It is rare for children to develop Huntington's. The disease progression is likely to be quicker than with adult onset. 75% of juvenile cases are inherited from their father and 25% from their mother.

The Huntington's Disease Association have a specialist advisor for Juvenile Huntington's disease.- contact details can be found on the website. It is not possible to test children for Huntington's disease. In the UK, the minimum age for genetic testing is generally 18 years, however, in exceptional cases, it might be reasonable to perform the genetic test in a child if they show signs of Juvenile Huntington's disease.