January 12, 2002 3:35 AM
I am very pleased that Dr. Nance took time out of her busy schedule to answers the questions I posed on ADHD medications having a potential impact on children at risk for JHD. This is the first time I've gotten an answer to these questions and I'm elated that an expert in JHD has taken the time to express her opinions on this subject.
A valued friend on pointed out that many people may take what I post as the gospel truth and I have an obligation to everyone not to mislead anyone and this person is absolutely correct and I thank them for being very candid with me.
I'd like to apologize if I've mislead anyone into believing that the research I have posted on there being a possible link between ADHD/ADD and JHD provided concrete scientific data to support my suspicions. Both HD and ADHD/HD affect the same areas of the brain. In my opinion they are tied together somehow but those are purely my suspicions and those of several other parents of JHD parents I've communicated with. Dr. Nance points out research has not been done on there being a possible connection, yet.
As you can see from Dr. Nance's response, there are still many areas that need to be researched to get exact answers to these questions.
Any child who has been diagnosed with ADHD/ADD needs to be treated for
this in order to help them handle the impact that disorder is having on their life.
If you're child is at risk for JHD, and diagnosed with either ADHD or ADD,
discuss any concerns you may have with their physician and neurologist but, please, never neglect getting help for your child.
(Note To contact Dr. Nance contact her office at 612-993-3200/3360)
Dr. Martha Nance's
Thoughts on ADHD and JHD
From: "Martha Nance"
To: "Jean E. Miller"
Sent: Saturday, January 12, 2002 3:35 AM
Subject: Re: ADHD: immune system may be involved Jan 2002
Jean--Here are my thoughts about ADD/ADHD and juvenile onset HD.
1. Your questions are very good ones
--why do so many kids with juvenile onset HD get diagnosed with ADD before they develop HD?
--does ADD medication (i.e. Ritalin or Dexedrine) cause HD symptoms to come on sooner than they otherwise would have?
The real answers to both questions are, we don't know.
There are several possible answers to the first question.
a) It is possible that ADD and HD are entirely unrelated. I forget what the
incidence of ADD is in kids in general, but it is pretty high. So it is possible that some kids are unlucky and "get" both conditions.
b) perhaps whatever causes ADD also makes HD more likely to come on sooner.
The articles that you quote suggest that certain gene variants are more
common in kids with ADD than in the normal population. These genes may
"predispose" people to developing ADD. Maybe the same genes predispose people to developing the psychological symptoms of HD.
There is currently a research study called "HD-MAPS", which is hoping to
identify genes besides the HD gene that determine when the HD symptoms begin. Hopefully this study will determine whether this possibility is correct. In this study, blood samples and disease information are obtained from siblings who both have HD. We are particularly interested in "unusual cases" such as children or siblings whose onset age was very different.
Anyone who wants to participate in this study should contact the nearest HD "Center of Excellence" or contact me and I will point you in the right direction. You can ONLY be in this study if BOTH you and a brother or sister are currently alive, diagnosed with HD, and willing to have a blood sample taken.
c) the third possibility is that ADD is in fact a symptom of HD. We have no
good way to prove that just by looking at people, but if we develop other
laboratory tests to tell us when the brain changes of HD have begun, we will be able to determine whether this is true or not.
2. Do ADD medications make HD come on sooner?
I don't really think so, but I do not have any research data to support a yes or no answer. I have used Ritalin to treat some HD patients who are withdrawn and apathetic, and it does not seem to worsen their HD.
I usually am not involved in the treatment of people over their lifetime before their HD comes on, but I have not had the impression that the people I see with HD who were treated for ADD as youngsters have had earlier onset of symptoms than anyone else. But this question is open to debate (and to research)!