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Genetics: A Family Affair
A blog by Regine Lim, May 23, 2014
So, you’re ready to have a baby. You’re reducing stress. You’re giving up wine and taking folic acid religiously. Like most women preparing to conceive, you’re doing everything you can to maximize the health of your future baby.
Just as pregnancy itself is complex, so are the methods of protecting your baby’s health. A key player in the health of your future children – and one that is often overlooked – is genetics.
Your genes come from both your mother and your father and they determine how your body grows and develops. Likewise, when you have children, your genes will become part of your child’s genetic makeup – his or her genome.
Genetics, both genetic health and sometimes genetic disease, play a central role in your child’s development before they are even born. Likewise, the earlier you are introduced to the role that genes play in reproductive health, the more options you have available to you to manage this risk. Reproductive genetics is designed to help women and their families understand these risks for disease and birth defects.
Take charge! You are your own best advocate - the best person to make decisions about your pregnancy and health of your future child. So start by understanding your own family’s genetic history.
Sometimes disease patterns in families serve as a small window into potential genetic risk and can help you make some early decisions about reproduction.
As you begin your path toward motherhood, here are four helpful questions that you can ask yourself and your family members:
- Has any one in the family been born with a genetic disorder or birth defect?
- Has any one in the family been diagnosed with any medical issues?
- How old were these family members when they were diagnosed? How old are they now?
- If a family member has passed away – how old were they when they passed? What was their cause of death?
If your family is willing to play ball, this dialogue may help shape your and your future family’s healthcare decisions. More detailed instructions for gathering a family history can be found here.
We will discuss more about genes, and how they build families, as we delve into reproductive genetics.