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Could Factors in Adolescence Predict Dementia?

Update Date: Aug 12, 2013 04:00 PM EDT

Young-onset dementia may be predicted in adolescence, a new study suggests.

New findings suggest that nine risk factors, most of which can be traced to adolescent, account for most cases of young-onset dementia diagnosed before the age of 65.

Dementia affects around 35.6 million people around the world, and that number is expected to increase to more than 115 million people in the next 40 years.

The latest study involved data from 488,484 Swedish men conscripted for mandatory military service from September 1969 through December 1979 with an average age of 18 years.

Study results show that 487 men were diagnosed as having young-onset dementia during a median follow-up of 37 years.

Researchers found that significant risk factors for young-onset dementia include alcohol intoxication, stroke, use of antipsychotics, depression, father's dementia, drug intoxication other than alcohol, low cognitive function at conscription, low height at conscription, and high systolic blood pressure at conscription.

Researchers said that these factors accounted for 68 percent of the young-onset dementia cases identified in the study.

The findings show that men who had at least two of the nine risk factors and in the lowest third of overall cognitive function were about 20 times more likely to be diagnosed with young-onset dementia.

"In this nationwide cohort, nine independent risk factors were identified that accounted for most cases of young-onset dementia in men. These risk factors were multiplicative, most were potentially modifiable, and most could be traced to adolescence, suggesting excellent opportunities for early prevention," researchers wrote in the study.

"Young-onset dementia (YOD), that is, dementia diagnosed before 65 years of age, has been related to genetic mutations in affected families. The identification of other risk factors could improve the understanding of this heterogeneous group of syndromes," researchers concluded.

The findings are published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine

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