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Genetics: The Family Pedigree

  • By: Julia Eggert & Heide S. Temples
  • In: Encyclopedia of Family Health
  • Edited by: Martha Craft-Rosenberg & Shelley-Rae Pehler
  • Subject:Family Health, Family Policy, Family Law

A pedigree is a graphic diagram of a family's medical history. It is commonly called a family tree. Using a combination of symbols, it concisely records the family medical history, thereby helping families, individuals, and health providers identify inherited conditions along with biological and social relationships. According to Robin Bennett and Patricia Bender, a comprehensive pedigree analyzes at least three generations of blood relatives to identify and calculate the risk of transmitting inherited conditions, establish a pattern of inheritance, provide a medical diagnosis and treatment, plan testing strategies, determine reproductive options, and educate the family. According to Sharon Olsen, Sharon Dudley-Brown, and Patricia McMullen, an estimated 45% to 79% of families have at least one chronic disease that may be inherited.

The pedigree or family tree ...

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