Huntington's Disease

Essay by Anonymous UserHigh School, 11th gradeA-, May 1993

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Huntington's Disease is a rare hereditary disorder. It is characterized by irregular

movements of the body, slurred speech, and the deterioration of mental functioning.

Symptoms of the individual include alternating periods of excitement and depression. It is

caused by a buildup of neurotransmitter fluids, which can cause schizophrenia. The first

symptoms of the disease usually appear between the ages of 35 and 45, but much earlier

and later occurrences are also known.

Since this disease occurs later in life, the only chance you would have of being

diagnosed with it was if it was in your family's history. If one of the parents of a child has

Huntington's Disease and the other does not, the child has a 50% chance of inheriting the

disease. Once it is transmitted, it is certain to develop. The disease may progress for 10 to

20 years until the patient dies. No treatment yet exists for this disease.

However, in 1983 a

U.S. research team announced the discovery of an identifiable segment of DNA that can be

used as an indicator of the presence of the gene causing the disease. In March 1993, the

journal Cell announced that the Huntington's Disease Collaborative Research Group had

discovered the gene behind the disease. This was a major breakthrough in the effort to

understand and eventually work toward a treatment of the disorder.

Our group has decided to have the child. We have a steady income of $52,000 and

are insured through our employers. Our counselor said that it was souly our decision to

whether or not we wanted to have a child, but he warned us that the child could have a

50% chance of having the disease. However, he did point out that we were quite young to

even be worried about starting a family.