Another common worry for young people at-risk is that they share the same characteristics as their family member who has Huntington’s disease. This is down to the fact that the disease is genetic and people feel if, for example, they have the same hair, eye colour or features as their affected family member then they may have inherited the gene for Huntington’s disease from them too.
Fortunately, genetics does not work like this. Basically, each gene is passed down separately. Someone at risk could look, sound and behave exactly like their affected parent in every way – it doesn’t matter: that person’s chance of having inherited the gene that causes Huntington’s disease is still 50/50.
Some young people also live in a family where there may appear to be a pattern to how the disease is inherited. For example, it may be the case that in the last few generations, in one particular family, they may have had only the women in the family inherit the disease, or the eldest siblings etc. This can lead people to believe that the pattern is certain to continue in exactly the same way for their generation of the family.
No family has a ‘pattern’ or ‘script’ for how people inherit Huntington’s disease. It is just coincidence that the family tree has worked out that way. Remember, each individual has a 50/50 risk – family patterns have no influence at all.