Bay Area Medical Information
Huntington's Disease (HD)

On this page: Incidence of HD | Origin of HD

About Huntington's Disease

Huntington's disease (HD) is a devastating, hereditary, degenerative brain disorder for which there is, at present, no effective treatment or cure. HD slowly diminishes the affected individual's ability to walk, think, talk and reason. Eventually, the person with HD becomes totally dependent upon others for his or her care. HD profoundly affects the lives of entire families--emotionally, socially and economically. HD causes a movement disorder, psychiatric difficulties and cognitive changes, usually beginning in middle adult life. Signs and symptoms vary from person to person. For instance, one person affected with HD may have a very obvious movement disorder, but only mild psychiatric symptoms and intellectual deterioration, while another might suffer with depression and anxiety for years before showing any abnormal movements.

Incidence of HD

One out of every 10,000 Americans has HD. Yet the devastating effects of HD touch many more. HD is hereditary and does not skip generations. Each child of a parent with HD has a 50/50 chance of inheriting the gene that causes HD. If a child does not inherit the gene, he or she cannot pass it on. If the child does inherit the gene, or or she can pass it on and will develop the disease if that child lives long enough. There are approximately 200,000 Americans "at risk" of developing the disease.

Origin of HD

Its clear hereditary nature, led quickly to searches for the original Huntington disease person or community. The most famous research efforts suggested that the disorder may have originated in Bures, a small Suffolk village in England. Persons who exhibited chorea (jerky, spasmodic, and uncontrollable movements of the limbs, trunk, and facial muscles...from the Greek word for dance) from this locale were sent on the Winthrop Fleet in 1630 (eleven vessels sailed from Yarmouth, Isle of Wight) probably with the aid of paid witch hunters, to the Massachusetts Colony wheere their disease and social discord arising from it are adequately recorded in a continuous variety of historic records. Fanning out through New England and later Connecticut, females in family lines became victims of the New England Witch Hunts. They were believed to be possessed by the devil. Their involuntary movements were thought to be a parody of Christ upon the Cross.

Support Groups for Huntington's Disease

Huntington’s Disease Society of America:
If you have HD, take this survey:
If you've taken any of the below products, this survey will be quick and easy for you to take:
  • EPA (from fish oil)
  • Creatine
  • Trehalose
  • SSRI Antidepressants
  • COQ10
  • Minocycline (Minocin?)
  • None, so far...

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