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Genetic Family Histories

  • By: Harvey J. Murff
  • In: Encyclopedia of Family Health
  • Edited by: Martha Craft-Rosenberg & Shelley-Rae Pehler
  • Subject:Family Health, Family Policy, Family Law

A widespread and cost-effective method to determine whether a health condition has an inherited component is through the family history interview. The family history interview is commonly the critical factor for identifying individuals at risk for hereditary syndromes. Family history information can lead to referrals for genetic consultation and genetic testing. Clinicians will often recommend disease-screening interventions, lifestyle changes, and prophylactic medications and procedures based on one's family history. Within the context of the genetic family history, the collection of family history information takes the form of a pedigree or genogram. A pedigree is a diagram that details familial relationships and health status. The benefit of recording the family history in the form of a pedigree is that this representation helps to facilitate the ...

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