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Can You Be Born With Parkinson’s Disease

First Signs Of Young Onset Parkinsons May Occur Before Birth

Dr. Gilbert Hosts: Complementary Therapies for Parkinson’s Disease with Dr. Britt Stone

Scientists have discovered that some people who develop Parkinsons disease before 50 years of age may be born with disordered brain cells.

A team of scientists from the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA, made the discovery in individuals with young onset Parkinsons disease .

Their research, appearing in the journal Nature Medicine , suggests that as these brain cells continue to malfunction, enough issues eventually develop for a person to start experiencing the symptoms of Parkinsons.

The team also found that a drug may be able to correct the disease process, opening the door to the possibility of preventing it in the first place.

What Role Do Genes Play

Your genes are like your body’s instruction book. So if you get a change in one of them, it can make your body work in a slightly different way. Sometimes, that means you’re more likely to get a certain disease.

There are several genetic mutations that can raise your risk for Parkinson’s, each by a little bit. They have a part in about 1 in 10 cases.

If you have one or more of these changes, it doesn’t mean you’ll get Parkinson’s. Some people will, but many won’t, and doctors don’t know why. It may have to do with other genes or something in your environment.

Who Gets Early Onset Parkinsons Disease

About 10%-20% of those diagnosed with Parkinsons disease are under age 50, and about half of those are diagnosed before age 40. Approximately 60,000 new cases of Parkinsons are diagnosed each year in the United States, meaning somewhere around 6,000 12,000 are young onset patients.

Is it genetic or hereditary?

The cause of Parkinsons disease is not yet known. However, Parkinsons disease has appeared across several generations of some families, which could indicate that certain forms of the disease are hereditary or genetic. Many researchers think that Parkinsons disease may be caused by genetic factors combined with other external factors. The field of genetics is playing an ever greater role in Parkinsons disease research, and scientists are continually working towards determining the cause or causes of PD.

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How Will My Parkinsons Affect My Pregnancy

Women with Parkinsons dont seem to have any issues with fertility, conception, and the birthing process. A Parkinsons diagnosis should not dictate the delivery method, and there doesnt seem to be any major delivery complications such as increased bleeding. Nor does Parkinsons alone seem to result in major birth defects.;;

What Are The Complications Of Parkinson Disease

Risk of Parkinsons disease could be determined before a ...

Parkinson disease causes physical symptoms at first. Problems with cognitive function, including forgetfulness and trouble with concentration, may arise later. As the disease gets worse with time, many people develop dementia. This can cause profound memory loss and makes it hard to maintain relationships.

Parkinson disease dementia can cause problems with:

  • Speaking and communicating with others
  • Problem solving
  • Forgetfulness
  • Paying attention

If you have Parkinson disease and dementia, in time, you likely won’t be able to live by yourself. Dementia affects your ability to care of yourself, even if you can still physically do daily tasks.

Experts don’t understand how or why dementia often occurs with Parkinson disease. Its clear, though, that dementia and problems with cognitive function are linked to changes in the brain that cause problems with movement. As with Parkinson disease, dementia occurs when nerve cells degenerate, leading to chemical changes in the brain. Parkinson disease dementia may be treated with medicines also used to treat Alzheimer’s disease, another type of dementia.

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How Will My Pregnancy Affect My Parkinsons

Not much research has been done to address this potential issue, but there have been a few observational studies that give us some information. The reports are conflicting, with some women reporting their Parkinsons symptoms were stable and some, approximately 50%, reporting that their condition worsened during the course of pregnancy. Although many returned to their expected baseline after birth, others reported a deterioration in their condition that did not improve. Part of the worsening during pregnancy may be based on the fact that many women choose to be unmedicated, forgoing sustained symptom control for what they believe is reduced risk to their unborn child. Our metabolism also changes during pregnancy, which may change the way the medications work and rendering them less effective. The physical and psychological stress that one naturally incurs during pregnancy may also worsen symptomatology.;;

Whats Different About Young

The age of diagnosis matters for a variety of reasons, from probable causes of early cases to symptoms and treatment:

  • Genetics.;As with any case of Parkinsons disease, the exact cause is usually unknown. That said, The young-onset cases of Parkinsons disease are, on average, a bit more likely to be familial or genetic, says Gregory Pontone, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Movement Disorders Psychiatry Clinic.
  • Symptoms.;In many patients with YOPD, dystonia is an early symptom. People with YOPD also report more dyskinesia . They also tend to exhibit cognitive problems, such as dementia and memory issues, less frequently.
  • Progression.;Patients with young-onset Parkinsons appear to have a slower progression of the disease over time, says Pontone. They tend to have a milder course, staying functional and cognitively intact for much longer.
  • Treatment.;Most patients with Parkinsons take the medication levodopa. However, other drugs, such as MAO-B inhibitors, anticholinergics, amantadine, and dopamine receptor agonists, may be used before levodopa.

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Can Parkinsons Be Passed From Parent To Child

Its rare for Parkinsons disease to be passed down from parent to child. Most cases of Parkinsons arent hereditary. But people who get early-onset Parkinsons disease are more likely to have inherited it.

Having a family history of Parkinsons disease may increase the risk that youll get it. This means that having a parent or sibling with Parkinsons slightly increases the risk.

In most cases, the cause of Parkinsons disease remains unknown. But researchers have identified multiple risk factors that can increase your chances of getting this disease.

Risk factors for Parkinsons disease include:

  • mutations in specific genes associated with Parkinsons
  • having a family history of Parkinsons or a first-degree family member with Parkinsons
  • being older, especially above the age of 60
  • exposure to herbicides and pesticides
  • being assigned male at birth
  • history of brain injury

Eat Fresh Raw Vegetables

The Parkinson’s You Don’t See: Cognitive and Non-motor Symptoms

If you needed more reasons to eat your vegetables, this should be the clincher. Studies show that increased amounts of the B vitamin folic acid, found primarily in vegetables, can significantly reduce the risk of Parkinsons.

The best sources of folic acid are simultaneously some of the healthiest foods on the planet, namely dark green vegetables like broccoli, spinach, collard greens, brussels sprouts, asparagus and okra all of which can be grown in your backyard! This B vitamin can also be found in avocado, legumes and lentils.

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Helpful Food For Parkinson’s

Here are some guidelines on which foods help best manage Parkinsons disease.

  • Vary your food. Eating different types of food will ensure that you consume the essential vitamins and minerals that you need to manage Parkinsons disease.
  • Increase your fiber intake. Consuming high-fiber vegetables and other food aids digestion, eases constipation, and helps you feel full longer.
  • Eat more whole grain foods such as brown rice, pasta, whole wheat bread, oatmeal, or crackers.

The Plus Side Of An Early Diagnosis

The news is not nearly all bad for those with young-onset Parkinsons. For one thing, patients with YOPD are better candidates for surgical procedures and medical innovations being used or developed to treat Parkinsons disease. For another, younger patients are less likely to be coping with other health problems at the same time.

Targeting Parkinsons-Linked Protein Could Neutralize 2 of the Diseases Causes

Researchers report they have discovered how two problem proteins known to cause Parkinsons disease are chemically linked, suggesting that someday, both could be neutralized by a single drug designed to target the link.

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What Causes Parkinson’s Disease

In the very deep parts of the brain, there is a collection of nerve cells that help control movement, known as the basal ganglia . In a person with Parkinson’s disease, these nerve cells are damaged and do not work as well as they should.

These nerve cells make and use a brain chemical called;dopamine; to send messages to other parts of the brain to coordinate body movements. When someone has Parkinson’s disease, dopamine levels are low. So, the body doesn’t get the right messages it needs to move normally.

Experts agree that low dopamine levels in the brain cause the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, but no one really knows why the nerve cells that produce dopamine get damaged and die.


Parents And Parkinsons Disease

Coping Strategies for Dementia Caregivers

My advice to anyone whose parent has recently been diagnosed with PD or has been struggling for years with the disease would be to embrace every moment as a gift and a miracle. I know it sounds cliche, but right now is all we truly have. Try not to be discouraged by the way the disease robs your loved one of their physical strength and independence. Focus instead on what you love about your parent, and help them to see that you love them for who they are. Spend time talking with them. Do what they love to do, and help them to find outlets that bring joy to their souls. Yes, it is truly heartbreaking to watch someone you love become physically less than what they were, but the person you love is still there. They need you be there for them.

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Drugs And Medication Used To Treat Parkinsons Disease

A number of different drugs can be used to treat Parkinsons.


Levodopa is the most common treatment for Parkinsons. It helps to replenish dopamine.

About 75 percent of cases respond to levodopa, but not all symptoms are improved. Levodopa is generally given with carbidopa.

Carbidopa delays the breakdown of levodopa which in turn increases the availability of levodopa at the blood-brain barrier.

Dopamine agonists

Dopamine agonists can imitate the action of dopamine in the brain. Theyre less effective than levodopa, but they can be useful as bridge medications when levodopa is less effective.

Drugs in this class include bromocriptine, pramipexole, and ropinirole.


Anticholinergics are used to block the parasympathetic nervous system. They can help with rigidity.

Benztropine and trihexyphenidyl are anticholinergics used to treat Parkinsons.


Amantadine can be used along with carbidopa-levodopa. Its a glutamate-blocking drug . It offers short-term relief for the involuntary movements that can be a side effect of levodopa.

COMT inhibitors

Catechol O-methyltransferase inhibitors prolong the effect of levodopa. Entacapone and tolcapone are examples of COMT inhibitors.

Tolcapone can cause liver damage. Its usually saved for people who do not respond to other therapies.

Ectacapone does not cause liver damage.

Stalevo is a drug that combines ectacapone and carbidopa-levodopa in one pill.

MAO-B inhibitors

Other Causes Of Parkinsonism

“Parkinsonism” is the umbrella term used to describe the symptoms of tremors, muscle rigidity and slowness of movement.

Parkinson’s disease is the most common type of parkinsonism, but there are also some rarer types where a specific cause can be identified.

These include parkinsonism caused by:

  • medication where symptoms develop after taking certain medications, such as some types of antipsychotic medication, and usually improve once the medication is stopped
  • other progressive brain conditions such as progressive supranuclear palsy, multiple systems atrophy and corticobasal degeneration
  • cerebrovascular disease where a series of small strokes cause several parts of the brain to die

You can read more about parkinsonism on the Parkinson’s UK website.

Page last reviewed: 30 April 2019 Next review due: 30 April 2022

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What Parkinsons Looks Like In The Brain

PD is a progressive disease of the nervous system in which;a persons brain gradually stops producing the neurotransmitter, dopamine. With less and less dopamine, they lose the ability to regulate their movements, body, and emotions. The condition is associated with degeneration of the basal ganglia of the brain and alterations in other parts of the brain and neurotransmitters.

PD progresses slowly in most people with symptoms often taking years to develop, and many can live for years with the disease.;PD itself isnt fatal. However, complications from it are serious and can lead to death.;The four main-movement related;symptoms of Parkinsons are:

  • Tremor, which means shaking or trembling. Tremor may affect your hands, arms, or legs.
  • Stiff muscles.
  • Problems with balance or walking.

Many other problems, such as depression, constipation, sleep disturbances, and cognitive issues, may be present.

Parkinsons Drugs And Pregnancy

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When Ellie first discovered she was pregnant, she was taking a low dose of Parkinsons medication. She was concerned about the effect the drug might have on her baby, so she discussed this with her neurologist.

Ellies neurologist said she would benefit from staying on a low dose of her Parkinsons medication. He explained it was probably safe during pregnancy, even though he could not be completely certain due to the lack of research in this area.;

In the end, it was up to Ellie and Tom to decide whether she should continue to take the medication during her pregnancy.

The decision was ours in the end, she;says, I was on such a low dose that I dont think it would have had any impact, and if my neurologist thought it was a really bad idea, he would have taken me off the medication.”

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Stem Cell Study Finds Malfunctioning Brain Cells In Patients Who Were Diagnosed Before Age 50; Researchers Test Potential New Treatment

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
People who develop Parkinson’s disease before age 50 may have been born with disordered brain cells that went undetected for decades, according to new research. The research points to a drug that potentially might help correct these disease processes.

People who develop Parkinson’s disease before age 50 may have been born with disordered brain cells that went undetected for decades, according to new Cedars-Sinai research. The research points to a drug that potentially might help correct these disease processes.

Parkinson’s occurs when brain neurons that make dopamine, a substance that helps coordinate muscle movement, become impaired or die. Symptoms, which get worse over time, include slowness of movement, rigid muscles, tremors and loss of balance. In most cases, the exact cause of neuron failure is unclear, and there is no known cure.

At least 500,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with Parkinson’s each year, and the incidence is rising. Although most patients are 60 or older when they are diagnosed, about 10% are between 21 and 50 years old. The new study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, focuses on these young-onset patients.

The researchers detected two key abnormalities in the dopamine neurons in the dish:

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Theres Something Unsettling About Someone Standing When You Feel Like They Should Be Sitting

Dad, you want to just sit here for a minute while I get us a drink?

On that, he plopped down and I positioned our bags so theyd be in his sight and reach.

A muffin would be good, too, he added.

OK. Ill see if they have muffins.

I turned and headed back to the concession stand. I couldnt have walked more than five or six steps before I glanced back over my shoulder at him. He was still sitting there. I dont know what I expected to see like he was going to erupt in flames the moment he was out of my sight or something.

I got in line, and as I waited my turn, I kept looking back.

Watch him like a hawk.

We hadnt come this far to have him fall down and break his wrist or have our bags stolen from under his nose.

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Mortality From Parkinsons Disease

With treatment, the life expectancy of people with PD is similar to that of the general population. However, dementia seems to largely impact life expectancy among people with PD, and about 50 percent to 80 percent of people with PD develop dementia in their lifetime. Risk factors for mortality include later age of onset, male sex, severity of motor impairment, presence of psychotic symptoms, and dementia. Early detection of disease, prevention of motor symptom progression, and treatment of dementia can increase life expectancy.8,9

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What Are The Symptoms Of Parkinson Disease

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Parkinson disease symptoms usually start out mild, and then progressively get much worse. The first signs are often so subtle that many people don’t seek medical attention at first. These are common symptoms of Parkinson disease:

  • Tremors that affect the face and jaw, legs, arms, and hands
  • Slow, stiff walking

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Testing For Parkinsons Disease

There is no lab or imaging test that is recommended or definitive for Parkinsons disease. However, in 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved an imaging scan called the DaTscan. This technique allows doctors to see detailed pictures of the brains dopamine system.

A DaTscan involves an injection of a small amount of a radioactive drug and a machine called a single-photon emission computed tomography scanner, similar to an MRI.

The drug binds to dopamine transmitters in the brain, showing where in the brain dopaminergic neurons are.

The results of a DaTscan cant show that you have Parkinsons, but they can help your doctor confirm a diagnosis or rule out a Parkinsons mimic.


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