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Life Table Methods and Assessment of Familial Risk in Alzheimer's Disease

John C. S. Breitner, MD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1990;47(4):395-396. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1990.01810160095017.
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To the Editor.—  Several articles published recently in the ARCHIVES1-3 and elsewhere4-6 have discussed the risk of Alzheimer's disease (AD) among first-degree relatives (parents, siblings, offspring) of individuals with rigorous clinical diagnoses of this disorder. All of these studies relied on the life table method to reach the provocative conclusion that the cumulative expression of AD-like illness in these relatives rises with age to nearly 50% by the late 80s or the 90s. Each study included a comparison group of relatives of non-AD controls, and in each study dementia in relatives was ascertained by interviewers who were "blind" to the status of the index individual (case patient or control subject). In all instances, the comparable risk of disease among control relatives was only 10% to 15%. The significance of these results rests in the expectation that the risk of AD among proband relatives should be 50% or higher


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