If someone in your family has been diagnosed, you might wonder if you or your other family members are at risk for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Familial ALS (FALS) is a real condition, but it’s rare.
There’s much more to dive into regarding ALS, its causes, and potential treatments. Here’s what you need to know.
ALS Is Not Usually Inherited
The good news for families who are worried about FALS is that only about 10% of all ALS cases are linked to genetic inheritance. This means that even if you or a family member have ALS, the chance of passing it on is small.
The other 90% of ALS diagnoses are considered “sporadic.” This means that random genetic mutations and environmental factors cause the onset of ALS.
Determining Genetic ALS
If someone in your family has been diagnosed with ALS, you likely want to know which form of the disease they have. There are some key differences between FALS and regular ALS to look for.
Age of Onset
The age at which ALS symptoms start to show up is one of the best ways to determine whether ALS has been inherited. In families with FALS, symptoms usually show much earlier in life than sporadic ALS.
Most families with the genes for FALS also struggle with frontotemporal dementia. This is a form of dementia that results from damage to the neurons in your frontal and temporal lobes.
Your frontal and temporal lobes control memory, communication, emotional processing, and judgment. Families with FALS often have more than one family member who experiences both early dementia and ALS symptoms.
More than One Diagnosis in the Family
If more than one member of your family has ALS, it’s likely related to genetics. Sporadic ALS is extremely rare in the general population, with about two cases per 100,000 people.
How FALS Works
FALS is known as an autosomal dominant condition. This means that the chance of the affected parent passing on the gene for FALS to their child is 50%.
It’s important to know that just because a parent may pass on the gene responsible for FALS doesn’t mean their child will develop symptoms. Some people with the affected gene never develop ALS symptoms at all.
The risk of a child inheriting FALS rises if the other parent also has the gene responsible for FALS. Genetic testing can help you avoid this problem in advance.
Living with ALS
There are some promising potential treatments for ALS, including stem cell therapy. You and your family can move forward with hope knowing that researchers are determined to find the best treatment options and potential cure.
See a genetic counselor for more information if you’re concerned about genetic ALS.
This post was written by a medical professional at Stemedix Inc. At Stemedix we provide access to Regenerative Medicine for ALS, also known as ALS Stem cell therapy. Regenerative medicine has the natural potential to help improve symptoms sometimes lost from the progression of many conditions.