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Dystonia with no obvious cause, or caused by a genetic mutation, is known as primary dystonia. If dystonia is a symptom of another condition, it's known as secondary dystonia.
Most people with primary dystonia don't have an identified cause. A minority of cases are associated with genetic mutations, which usually begin in childhood.
There are currently over 12 types (or sub-types) of dystonia linked to genetic mutations, including generalised dystonia, dopa-responsive dystonia and paroxysmal dystonia.
Read more about the different types of dystonia.
The genes responsible for these types of dystonia are passed down through families in a pattern that's known as autosomal dominant. This means if you have one of these abnormal genes, there's a one in two chance your children will inherit that gene and develop dystonia.
Secondary dystonia, also known as acquired dystonia, can have a wide range of causes, including: