An important clue to your health could only be as far as the family dinner table. Family health history can help highlight potential hereditary health risks and provide insight into patterns found in your family. By simply asking a few questions at the dinner table- you can improve your family history and arm your OBGYN with more information about you.
What is our family history?
Knowing your family health history begins with your family origins. You may be a carrier of a genetic condition without knowing it. Some ethnic groups are more prone to certain diseases and genetic conditions, like sickle-cell anemia or Tay-Sachs disease. So, it’s important for you and your partner to start having these conversations before you decide to have a baby.
Is there a family history of birth defects?
Understanding your family history of conditions like neural tube or congenital heart defects, down syndrome, cystic fibrosis and muscular dystrophy can help Dr. Nathan T. Thomas identify potential genetic risks. Depending on the type and severity of risks, you may consider genetic testing during your pregnancy. As with your ethnic background, you and your partner should share any family history of birth defects.
Has anyone had cancer?
While not all cancers are hereditary- genetic mutations may increase your risk of developing breast, ovarian and uterine cancers and can be passed generation to generation. And it’s not all about the women. Colon, pancreatic and prostate cancer have been shown to have genetic links to gynecologic cancers. Ask your family members if they’ve ever been diagnosed with cancer and, if so, what kind and at what age.
Do any prenatal conditions run in the family?
Some conditions that affect expectant mothers are more common if family members have experienced them. Gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and preterm labor are known to run in families. Knowing these trends can help your OBGYN monitor your health throughout your pregnancy.
Who is considered family?
When it comes to your family health history, you don’t need to call up your third cousin twice removed and ask about her pregnancy. First-tier family members include your parents and siblings. Dr. Thomas may also ask questions about your grandparents, aunts and uncles, as well as nieces and nephews. While you may not have all the answers- the more you know about your family, the better prepared you can be in managing your health.
Since moving to Dallas in 2009, Dr. Nathan Thomas has practiced general obstetrics and gynecology. He is a Fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and a Diplomat of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. He has a particular interest in minimally invasive gynecologic surgery, obstetrics and bio-identical hormone replacement.