Friday, October 28, 2011

PREVALENT HEALTH ISSUES IN THE FAMILY

This may sound like a strange topic for genealogy, but I can tell you from experience in my family lines that it is quite significant!  Question number 6 of Interview Question Form ,  asks "DO YOU KNOW OF ANY PREVALENT HEALTH ISSUES IN THE FAMILY HISTORY?  [EX. DIABETES, KIDNEY PROBLEMS, HEART PROBLEMS, ETC.]."  The question has a number of purposes in genealogy.  Researching your family tree doesn't just address your need to know where you came from, it can also be a tool for addressing issues in the current generation and those to come in years.  Many medical issues have genetic origins, some of which may not show up every generation.  In my family, there were numerous people displaying same symptomatology with few answers for quite some time.  I was initially diagnosed with a thyroid disease after years of going from doctor to doctor. Once I was diagnosed, it was only logical for other members who had similar symptoms to ask for thyroid tests which then led to their diagnosis of thyroid disease.  Going forward in generations to come, my family members will have documentation of this prevalent disease in our family.  It will save a lot of time, money and frustration, should any member begin to display the symptoms.

Another example is quite interesting in our family line, namely extra digits; meaning extra toes or fingers.  The medical term is called hexadactyly.  A cousin of mine wanted to find out if other family members had the same trait but was not quite sure initially, as to which line would be the source.  Being a genealogist, he was able to track down fellow family researchers who also knew of family members with extra digits, some known by family stories that were told from one generation to another.  He then took it a step further and had his DNA tested so that going forward, anyone who wanted an answer regarding their trait could have their DNA tested and would know if they were of the same family lineage. 

Through research it was amazing to find the number of stories that traced back to a particular family line.  These stories were the main resource to guide the research for answers.

Finally, if you are aware of a history of a particular medical problem, you then have the ability to educate yourself on any preventative measures, whenever and however possible.

My next post will talk about Question number 7 of the Interview Question Form . "DO YOU KNOW IF ANYONE IN OUR FAMILY WAS IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, CIVIL WAR OR ANY OTHER ACTIVE DUTY WHILE IN THE SERVICE?"