It could certainly be important and highly relevant to discover information about your family’s medical history from previous generations, as genetics can play a key role in shaping your own future health issues and those of your children too.
It could be that someone in your family suffers an injury in a car accident and needs to claim compensation, about which you can discover more from Hutchinson & Stoy. But for more predictable health problems that need addressing, it would be a good idea to delve into your family medical history.
A lot in common
Families tend to share a lot of common factors and that includes their genes and lifestyle similarities, all of which can provide some vital clues to certain medical conditions that may have a habit of running through your family.
Healthcare professionals have the knowledge and tools at their disposal to piece together all of these clues provided by noticing disorders that are prevalent amongst your relatives and then determining whether you are at an increased risk of developing a particular condition at some point in your life.
There are many ailments and disorders that are often influenced by a complex combination of genetic factors. This means that by delving into your family medical history, you could discover whether you are at a higher than usual risk of suffering from heart disease, certain specific cancers, high blood pressure, or a range of other disorders that could simply be in your genetic profile.
Clues not facts
It is important to remember that although your family medical history will often provide some useful clues as to your potential vulnerability to certain conditions, it does not mean that you are already predisposed to suffer the same fate as someone related to you from the past.
The point about building a genetic map based on your family medical history is that it does at least give you a good opportunity to take steps in order to reduce the risk of developing that same condition.
The actor Angelina Jolie has become a very high-profile example of how genetic information can influence your own thinking and strategy regarding your personal health, as she decided to have a double mastectomy in order to reduce her risk of breast cancer,
Her decision was predominantly based on the fact that her mother died of breast cancer and her aunt subsequently died just two weeks after Jolie had her operation.
The clues that you may be able to glean from your own genetic blueprint could then enable you to arrange more frequent screenings that are relevant to your perceived risk factors, such as having more regular mammograms for instance, so that you can get an early warning of any potential problems.
Your family history information could also inspire you to make some lifestyle changes in order to help avert a potential issue, such as changing your diet and taking regular exercise to lower your chances of developing heart disease.
How to learn about your family medical history
The most obvious starting point in your quest for information is to ask current members of your family for any current details or recollections of ancestors.
You may need to refer to death records and access family medical records where possible and not pertinent information that would be useful to know, such as major medical conditions and causes of death, together with what age they developed a disease and what age they were at death.
Once you have gathered as much as data as possible and shared this with your family doctor, it may be suggested that you are submitted for screening tests in order to try and achieve early detection of any potential disease, which is often vital.
Passing it on
The odds of passing on a genetic condition are roughly the same with each pregnancy so the risk factor tends to remain constant, although it should be noted that the chances of inheriting a genetic condition are never normally as straightforward as you might envisage.
Trying to estimate the specific odds of the risk of passing on a genetic disorder is definitely a complex task, although your chances of decoding the genetic data and making an informed decision based on what you find, do increase when you use genetics professionals, who know what they are looking for.
What is not difficult to decipher is the fact that discovering your family medical history could be a key part of shaping your future health decisions.
Lily Baker is a Mother of two kids aged 9 and 5. She writes about motherhood, living with disabilities, and a range of other day-to-day topics that come into her mind! Her articles can be read on a selection of parenting and lifestyle blogs.