Can Neurological Disorders Run in Families?

There are many different causes for neurological disorders, including infections, injuries, and environmental factors such as poor nutrition or exposure to heavy metals (like lead). Gene changes can also cause neurological disorders. Genes provide instructions for how our nervous system grows and develops. A change in a gene can alter the instructions for our brain, spinal cord and other nerves, and this can result in a neurological disorder.

Some gene changes that cause neurological disorders are passed from parents to children. These are called inherited neurological disorders and they can run in families. Sometimes these disorders can appear in multiple generations in a family. 

Chart shows the dominant inheritance of NDD in people

Other times, there may only be one person in the family who has symptoms of a neurological disorder. Some gene changes are brand new for the person who has symptoms. Even though the person with symptoms didn’t inherit the gene change from a parent, it can sometimes be passed down from them to their own children.

A Chart displaying the genetic inheritance in NDD

Genetic testing can be helpful in finding the cause of the neurological disorder that runs in your family. Your medical provider is a good person to speak with about whether the neurological disorder in your family might be inherited.