Family Health History is Important Screening Tool
"When a woman is planning a pregnancy, it's an ideal time to review her family history as well as her partner's," said Dr. Hogge. In addition to obtaining the family and medical history of and her male partner, it's also important to include their ethnic backgrounds, any family or personal negative pregnancy outcomes they've had separately or together, such as miscarriages, preterm birth, or birth defects, and any known causes for infertility. Some couples may decide against pregnancy after genetic counseling and testing, choose to use donor sperm or eggs, or opt for preimplantation genetic testing of the embryos.
There are a couple of standard that physicians can use to obtain family health histories: a or , and a family pedigree. A common screening tool is the family history questionnaire. Patients can fill them out at home which gives them extra time to contact family members and provide more accurate . The other family history tool is known as a 'pedigree' that ideally goes back three generations. The pedigree indicates the ages, health histories, and ethnicities of each family member, as well as dates and causes of death. Of course, family history screening tools can be difficult or impossible to obtain for adopted individuals and their usefulness may be limited for people with very small families.
Although many adult-onset health problems have complex genetic and environmental interactions, obtaining thatinformation in a family history can help patients modify their diet, , or exercise to improve their outcome or delay the onset of . "For instance, if you are at high risk for heart disease, then you need to watch your blood pressure and keep your in the healthy range," said Dr. Hogge.