By Samantha Miles
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHAM) - A possible medical breakthrough. New research is helping doctors understand what causes Alzheimer’s in women, the majority of Alzheimer's patients.
As 13WHAM’s Samantha Miles reports, women who’ve had miscarriages may be at a higher risk for developing the disease.
Dina Johnson knows the challenges of Alzheimer’s. “Not only do I see it, I’ve experienced it as a caregiver,” said Johnson. She's also lost family to dementia. She often worries her kids will develop it.
“I have three girls, right? I’m young. I’m only in my 40s, so I think about the risk they may go through in the future.”
But her worry, is turning to hope.
Local doctors say a recent study presented the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Chicago, followed almost 15,000 women over their lifetime.
The findings revealed women who had a miscarriage were at higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s than women who did not miscarry.
“There may not be a simple answer,” said Dr. David Gill, neurologist the Rochester Regional. “Is it related to the immune system, related to hormones, or its related to stress? It may be many of those things.”
While there are still many questions on what causes Alzheimer’s, Dr. Gill says hormonal changes, trauma to the immune system, and emotional stress can increase the risk of developing the disease.
Teresa Galbier, President and CEO of Alzheimer’s Association in Rochester and the Finger Lakes, says it’s the most important information to develop from Alzheimer’s research. “Don’t minimize the impact that that miscarriage had on the life of yourself and take good care of yourself and try to come to some resolution with some of the difficulties you may be facing around that period of time.”
And Galbier says self-care and talking to physicians about Alzheimer’s is critical, something Johnson is ready to do.
“It was very alarming because we know we have those risks. So what can we do?” Said Johnson.
“I think it will give hope.”
The same study also showed women who had three or more children had a 12 percent lower risk of developing dementia.