Study of possible factors associated with age of onset in essential tremor

Elan D. Louis, Ruth Ottman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Factors associated with the age of onset of essential tremor (ET) have not been studied in detail. Identification of modifiable factors could lead to strategies to delay disease onset and identification of nonmodifiable factors would be useful while counseling at risk individuals. The objective of this study was to identify factors associated with age of onset of tremor in ET. One hundred ninety-five ET cases were enrolled in an environmental epidemiological study. Clinical questionnaires included questions on age of onset, demographics (age, sex, race, education), early-life exposures (birth order, childhood household. size), exposures prior to tremor onset (head trauma, well water, rural living, estrogen replacement therapy), and family history. In unadjusted analyses, age of onset was associated with family history of tremor (40.9 ± 22.0 years for cases with a family history of tremor vs. 57.3 ± 18.4 years for cases without a history; P < 0.001), history of head trauma, younger current age, greater tremor severity, and white race. Ninety-one percent of cases with onset before age 20 years had a family history of tremor. Age of onset was not associated with other variables of interest (e.g., sex, well water, rural living). In an adjusted linear regression model, age of tremor onset was strongly associated with family history of tremor (P < 0.001). The familial form of ET is characterized by an earlier age of onset than the sporadic form. This study did not detect any other exposures that modified the age of onset of ET. Follow-up studies are needed to examine additional factors of potential interest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1980-1986
Number of pages7
JournalMovement Disorders
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Age of onset
  • Epidemiology
  • Essential tremor
  • Genetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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