About Huntington's Disease

What is Huntington's Disease (HD)?

Huntington's Disease (HD) is a genetic disorder that results in the progressive loss of nerve cells in the brain. This results in the deterioration of an individual's physical and mental abilities.

How does someone get HD?

Huntington’s Disease is inherited from a parent. It is an autosomal dominant disorder which means only one copy of the abnormal gene is necessary for an individual to inherit the disease. An individual with Huntington’s disease has a 50% chance of passing the gene on to their children. 

Click here for more information on the genetics of HD

What are the symptoms of HD?

Symptoms may include:

  • Personality changes, mood swings, and depression

  • Forgetfulness and confusion

  • Instability when walking

  • Involuntary movements

  • Slurred speech, difficulty in swallowing and weight loss

How is HD diagnosed?

HD is diagnosed following a neurological exam and confirmed by genetic testing.

Click here to learn more about genetic testing services our HD Center provides

What is Juvenile HD (JHD)?

Juvenile Huntington’s disease (JHD) is an early-onset form of HD that affects children and teenagers. This form of HD is less common than adult-onset HD and accounts for 5-10% of all HD cases. JHD is defined by the development of symptoms before the age of 20. 

Like adult-onset HD, JHD can result in emotional problems, personality changes, cognitive impairments, impaired coordination, slurred speech, and irregular muscle contractions. However, the symptoms of JHD are slightly different than adult-onset HD. Unlike adult-onset HD, seizures and rigidity are common with JHD while chorea is less common. Also, JHD tends to progress faster than adult-onset HD.