We all suffer from health problems at some point in our lives. Whether it’s a common cold or something more serious, health problems are simply just a way of life. For some people, however, health problems are more a part of their live than they may have realised. This is because a huge number of health related problems are hereditary.
Not all hereditary health problems are guaranteed. Some conditions are passed down in the form of pre-dispositions; heart disease is just one such example. If one or more of your parents or grandparents suffer with a hereditary condition of this nature, you will be more likely to develop it yourself – but this is not set in stone. The risk of a hereditary pre-disposition developing can be managed by reducing other contributing risk factors, such as unhealthy foods or smoking.
There are, however, a number of health problems that can be directly inherited from your parents. These conditions are usually passed down through genes; you may have inherited a faulty gene from one parent or the other, or sometimes even both. If you inherit a health problem of this nature, such as cystic fibrosis or sickle cell syndrome, no amount of healthy living will prevent the condition from developing. But modern technology has made many advancements in the detection and management of inheritable conditions. In fact, it was recently announced that scientists are now able to make very accurate predictions about what – if any – genetic problems a child would inherit, before they are even conceived.
Checking the Records
This technology is very new, and therefore won’t be available to the public for quite some time. However it is still possible to make health predictions for your own child by doing some research into your family’s health history. Although it may seem slightly morbid, checking your relative’s death records should be your first port of call. If any of your direct ancestors passed away from conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure or cancer, this can be an indicator of future ill health for either you or your family.
Delving into DNA
If, after you’ve conducted all of your independent research, you still have questions about your family health history, you may even wish to go to a company such as GTLDNA for an affordable DNA test. This kind of service is particularly useful for people who live in countries where medical care is not state-funded, as obtaining a DNA test through a hospital can be very expensive. Nevertheless, if you’re worried about your family health history you only has to look at the example set by Angelina Jolie to realise how useful DNA screening can be.