Some people with frontotemporal dementia have a family history of the condition but it is important to note that most cases of FTD (around seven in 10) do not have a genetic basis.

Directly inherited dementia is rare, but in around three in every 10 people with FTD a strong family history of the condition is known. In these cases the cause is likely to be genetic. This is known as familial frontotemporal dementia.

For behavioural variant FTD, which mainly affects emotion and personality, around one in every two people with the disease could have a family history. It’s less likely for other forms of FTD to run in the family.

Research has found a number of faulty genes that can cause inherited forms of FTD. Faulty genes are passed directly from a person who is affected by a condition like familial FTD to their children. The child then has a 50% (one in two) chance of inheriting the gene. If your doctor suspects a strong family history, you and other family members may be offered genetic testing to see if you carry the gene too. If you think this applies to your circumstances, you can speak to your doctor about you family history.

Find out more about genes and dementia on our page here, or by clicking the button below.

In cases of FTD where there is no family history, the risk factors for the disease are not yet fully understood. Because FTD is a rarer type of dementia it is harder for researchers to study how risk factors develop over time to cause it. We do know that there are steps we can all take to improve our brain health. Eating healthily, exercising regularly, and controlling existing health conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes may reduce the risk of dementia, including non-genetic FTD.

Find our more about reducing your risk of dementia here or by clicking the button below.

What is frontotemporal dementia?

This booklet is for anyone who wants to know more about frontotemporal dementia (FTD). This includes people living with FTD, their carers, families and friends.

FTD front cover
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Alzheimer’s Research UK has a wide range of information about dementia. Order booklets or download them from our online form.

This information was updated in January 2024 and is due for review in January 2026. It was written by Alzheimer’s Research UK’s Information Services team with input from lay and expert reviewers. Please get in touch if you’d like a version with references or in a different format.

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