Although Alzheimer's disease isn't commonly associated with young children, a new study actually suggests that those who are genetically predisposed to the condition may have a difference in their brain that can be detected as early as infancy. For the study, researchers examined the brains of 162 healthy babies. Sixty of the infants had inherited the APOE-e4 gene, which increases the risk of developing Alzheimer's as you age.
Babies with the APOE-e4 gene tended to have less brain growth in areas in the middle and back of the head—the same regions that are often affected in Alzheimer's patients—than those without the gene.
"The study does show some of the earliest brain changes linked with the APOE-e4 gene, the researchers said. The work also raises questions about the role of this gene in brain development, how the brain changes might relate to later Alzheimer's development, and whether early therapies that target these changes might prevent the disease," reported health website LiveScience.com.
About one-fourth of the United States population has the APOE-e4 gene, but not everyone who inherits it will develop Alzheimer's. However, according to the study, the more copies of the gene a person has, the greater their risk of developing this form of dementia.
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