Family Health Histories Dna Testing

You may have heard the common expression that something ?runs in the family.? While the expression is common folklore, it is actually true, and has been proven through heredity studies, genetic testing and family health studies. Your family history DNA is a valuable source of information. Your DNA may make you more susceptible to various diseases, but the information DNA provides can also help you prevent those same conditions.

Using Family DNA Testing for Prevention and Peace of Mind

Want to know more about your family DNA traits and how they may affect you? Genetic testing and organization of a DNA family history can compile a history of family health. Many Internet-based companies provide genetic tests that can give you valuable information for disease prevention and peace of mind.

After the test, a company will provides you with a personalized report containing essential information, as well as a clinical letter for your doctor explaining your test results.

Many online testing companies claim that some of the tests are covered or reimbursable by insurance policies. Before paying for a test, you should verify this information with your own insurance company.

Without insurance coverage, DNA testing can be costly. A cystic fibrosis test, for example, can cost more than $250. A blood clotting disorder test is nearly $400. Many sites also provide genome tests that are essentially family DNA testing: Genetic experts examine your genetic makeup in relation to your family medical history, your lifestyle, your environment and other important factors that can affect your health.

Family DNA Traits: Diseases that Run in Families

Many diseases run in families. Some of the most common diseases known to have a genetic component include:

  • allergies
  • Alzheimer?s disease
  • cancer
  • diabetes
  • glaucoma
  • heart disease
  • hypertension
  • osteoporosis.

Rare diseases known to run in families include:

  • autoimmune kidney disease
  • cystic fibrosis
  • hemophilia
  • scoliosis
  • sickle cell anemia.

If you have been to a doctor, chances are your doctor has asked you if anybody in your family has had cancer or any other disease. 

Family history includes DNA genetic susceptibilities to diseases as well as common behaviors and shared environment. Determining susceptibility to disease can be as simple as evaluating the health history of siblings, parents and grandparents, or as complicated as performing a pedigree analysis that includes first, second, third and fourth degree relatives.

Genetic Testing and Genomic Testing

Genomics is the study of genes and their functions. Genetics, on the other hand, is the study of heredity, specifically patterns of inheritance and specific traits passed from one generation to the next.

Genomic tests can answer scientists? questions about susceptibility to disease, prevention of diseases and disease pathogenesis (how a disease originates and develops). With genetic testing, scientists detect genetic alterations related to disorders by examining:

  • chromosomes (threadlike bodies in the center of a cell that carry valuable heredity information)
  • human DNA
  • human RNA metabolites
  • proteins.

Researching DNA Family History Online

The United States Health and Human Services believes that tracing diseases that your parents, grandparents, and other blood relatives have suffered is valuable information that your doctors can use to help you stay healthy.

You can compile your own DNA family history portrait using their web tool, ?My Family Health Portrait,? on the U.S. Heath and Human Services Web site. The tool allows you to organize your family history and is ideal for using in a consultation with your doctor. The report will include information about diseases that run in your family.


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Riley, D., Ph.D. (2005). DNA testing: An introduction for non-scientists: An illustrated explanation. Retrieved September 10, 2008, from the Scientific Testimony Web site: