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J Geriatr Psychiatry Neurol. 2011 Sep;24(3):135-41. doi: 10.1177/0891988711409402. Epub 2011 Jun 1.

Increasing depressive symptoms in children of Alzheimer parents.

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VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, CA, USA.


Children of persons with Alzheimer disease (AD) are at increased risk of developing AD themselves, but specific factors that predict AD in this population have yet to be elucidated. Various studies indicate depressive symptoms may predate clinical AD and represent a risk factor and/or prodrome of incipient dementia, but their relevance for AD offspring remains uncertain. As part of a longitudinal family study of AD, we assessed depressive symptomatology in 30 middle aged AD offspring (mean age at baseline: 41.2). Their mean total scores on the Hamilton Depression Rating scale increased from 1.8 to 5.3 (P < .001) across a 20-year interval. Neurocognitive performance remained stable in a subset of this cohort (N = 25) over the same interval. Findings from this small convenience sample suggest emerging depressive symptoms may be among the earliest signs of subsequent dementia in this high-risk population but require confirmation through further longitudinal follow-up and replication in larger populations.

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