Posts Tagged ‘family health history’

Don’t forget your family health history

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

generations-at-the-tableAs everyone is preparing for holiday travels or out-of-town visits from relatives, it is a good time to remember that family gatherings give you the perfect opportunity to discuss your family health history.  Each year since 2004, the Surgeon General has declared Thanksgiving to be National Family History Day.

A family health history is a written or graphic record of the diseases and health conditions present in your family. A useful family health history shows three generations of your biological relatives, the age at diagnosis of any specific diseases, and the age and cause of death of deceased family members. The family health history is a useful tool for understanding health risks and preventing disease in individuals and their close relatives.

If you have already discussed your family health history, now is a great time to update it.  And if it is not something you have had a chance to do, holidays are the perfect opportunity, when everyone is gathered together.  You can read more about the importance of family health history in some of our previous blog posts.  And you can go to our website to find our helpful family health history forms.  Learning about your family’s health history may help to ensure that your family can celebrate more holidays together in the future.

Thank you Angelina Jolie

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

How can we not be moved by Angelina Jolie’s stunning announcement today that she recently underwent double mastectomy surgery to prevent breast cancer? It is a monumental personal decision, but her generosity in sharing this news in the New York Times with all of us is bold, brave and a true gift.

This announcement comes during National Women’s Health Week. It encourages us to take charge of our health and to ask for the support we all need. It is a reminder of how important it is for all of us, men and women, to know our family health history. If you don’t know yours well, use our family health history form at this link to help you get started.

We admire and appreciate celebrities who use their influence to remind us to support one another and live healthier lives.

Chat on genetic counseling

Monday, March 4th, 2013

Susan Klugman, MDEver wonder if genetic counseling is for you? Join us for a #pregnancychat on genetic counseling and why it’s important. Dr. Susan Klugman, Director of Reproductive Genetics at Montefiore Medical Center, will be our guest to answer your questions, such as: What ethnic groups are more at risk for a genetic disorder? What does a family health history entail? Which prenatal tests are right for you? and more.

Dr. Klugman is a “medical detective” who works to identify the possible genetic risk factors for many inherited diseases. She encourages couples to consider genetic testing even before they get married so they can be as informed as possible when planning their families. She serves on the Board of Directors of the New York State Genetics Task Force. 

Dr. Klugman has appeared on many broadcast media outlets including ABC World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer. Take this unique opportunity to learn from her and ask questions. Join us on Twitter Wednesday, March 6th at 1 PM. Don’t forget to use #pregnancychat to make sure we see your questions.

Thrombophilias and pregnancy

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

The thrombophilias are a group of conditions that increase a person’s chances of developing blood clots. People with a thrombophilia tend to form blood clots too easily because their bodies make either too much of certain proteins (called blood clotting factors) or too little of anti-clotting proteins that limit clot formation.

Thrombophilias may pose special risks in pregnancy. Clots are more likely to develop when a person with a thrombophilia has certain risk factors, including being pregnant or in the postpartum period (up to 6 weeks after delivery)

Most women with a tendency to develop blood clots have healthy pregnancies. However, pregnant women with a thrombophilia may be more likely than other pregnant women to develop deep vein clots and certain other pregnancy complications. Even pregnant women without a thrombophilia may be more likely than non-pregnant women to develop deep vein clots and emboli. This is due to normal pregnancy-related changes in blood clotting that limit blood loss during labor and delivery. However, studies suggest that up to 50% of pregnant women who develop a pulmonary embolus (a clot in the lung) or other venous thromboembolism (a clot that breaks off and travels to a vital organ) have an underlying thrombophilia. Pulmonary embolus is one of the leading causes of maternal death in the United States.

Factor V Leiden and prothrombin mutations are the most common inherited thrombophilias and occur in about 5% to 3% of cases, respectively. Antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) is the most common acquired thrombophilia. APS occurs in up to 5% of pregnant women. Aside from possible pulmonary embolus, APS also may contribute to repeat miscarriage, stillbirth, preeclampsia and poor fetal growth.

All pregnant women who have had a blood clot should be offered testing. Your provider also may recommend testing if you have a family history of VTE before age 50. Women who have had three or more miscarriages (before or after 10 weeks of pregnancy) or one pregnancy loss after 10 weeks of pregnancy may be offered testing for APS.

Some women may not need treatment, however women with an inherited thrombophilia who have a history of blood clots are usually treated with an anticoagulant during pregnancy and the postpartum period. It is important for any woman with a clotting disorder to discuss with her health care provider what treatment, if any, is appropriate for her specific case. A family health history of blood clots can make a significant impact on the treatment decision – another good reason to know your family health history.

Happy Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

Dr. Fisk GreenToday’s guest post is written by Ridgely Fisk Green, PhD, MMSc. Dr. Fisk Green is Carter Consulting contractor at CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. Dr. Fisk Green works on improving children’s health through better use of family health history information.

Today, when you end up sitting next to Aunt Irma who likes to talk about everyone’s health problems, don’t tune her out! Take the opportunity to learn more about your family’s health history.

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to enjoy delicious food and get together with family. You share more than just special occasions with your family—you share genes, behaviors, culture, and environment. Family health history accounts for all of these. Your mother’s genes may have contributed to her type 2 diabetes and you may share some of those genes, but the fact that she never exercises and eats fast food every day also influences her health, and you might share some of those habits, as well.

Family health history information can also be important for keeping your child healthy. Family health history can help your child’s doctor make a diagnosis if your child shows signs of a disorder. It can show whether your child has an increased risk for a disease. If so, the doctor might suggest screening tests. Many genetic disorders first become obvious in childhood, and knowing about a history of a genetic condition can help find and treat the condition early.

Family health history is also very important if you’re pregnant or thinking of having a baby. Remember to collect family health history information from the baby’s father, too. Family health history can tell if you have a higher risk of having a child with a birth defect or genetic disorder, like sickle cell disease. Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about your family health history or the father’s family health history.

Tips for Collecting Family Health History for Your Child

•Record the names of your child’s close relatives from both sides of the family: parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews. For genetic conditions such as cystic fibrosis and sickle cell disease, include more distant relatives. Include conditions each relative has or had and at what age the conditions were first diagnosed.
•Use the US Surgeon General’s online tool for collecting family health histories, called “My Family Health Portrait.”
•Discuss family health history concerns with your child’s doctor. If you’re pregnant or planning to get pregnant, share family health history information with your doctor.
•Update your child’s family health history regularly and share new information with your child’s doctor.
•The best way to learn about your family health history is to ask questions. Talk at family gatherings and record your family’s health information—it could make a difference in your child’s life.

Click on this link to learn about family health history from the CDC.

Chat with Dr. Benjamin, U.S. Surgeon General

Friday, November 16th, 2012

surgeon-generalJoin us on Twitter for a chat with U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Regina Benjamin, on TUES 11/20 at 1pm ET. We’ll be talking about how completing a family health history can help give babies a healthy start in life.  National Family History Day is part of the Surgeon General’s Family Health History Initiative. 

Understanding your family health history is important for everyone, but it’s especially important for pregnant women, new moms or couples thinking about starting a family.  Knowing both parents’ family health histories can help identify risk for genetic conditions, birth defects, or preterm birth.

Follow the chat using #familyhealthhistory and join the conversation by following on Twitter, @marchofdimes or @SGRegina.

Upcoming chats in November

Monday, October 29th, 2012

November is Prematurity Awareness Month and will be a busy month for us on Twitter. Here is a list of times for upcoming chats when you can join us, ask questions and share your stories. Set your reminders and we’ll see you then.

Nov 1 – Evening #preemiechat at 9pm EST (Postponed due to power outages. We will reschedule.)

Nov 9 – Micropreemies chat with Amanda Knickerbocker, #preemiechat @micropreemie, at 2pm EST

Nov 16 – World Prematurity Day global chat, #worldprematurityday, at 3pm EST

Nov 17 World Prematurity Day – We’ll be chatting all day, #preemiechat #worldprematurityday

Nov 20 – Family health history chat with Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, #familyhealthhistory, at 1 pm EST

Nov 30 – #pregnancychat on preterm labor at 1pm EST (Changed to 3 PM ET)

Blood disorders chat: Can I pass this on to my child?

Monday, October 15th, 2012

althea-grantDid you know that millions of people carry genes for various blood disorders? Many of these people will live normal, healthy lives without serious complications. However, some may experience some complications under certain conditions.  Many people are unaware of their carrier status or family health history. With all the misinformation out there about blood disorders, it’s easy to get confused.

Please join us for an online chat about blood disorders, the importance of carrier status, family health history, pregnancy, and newborn screening. Dr. Althea Grant will be answering your questions and debunking myths and misconceptions about carrier issues related to:

Bleeding and clotting disorders
•             Hemophilia
•             Blood clots
•             Von Willebrand disease

Hemoglobinopathies
•             Sickle cell disease
•             Thalassemia

Meet us on Twitter and join the conversation “Removing the Knowledge Barriers When it Comes to Information on Carriers” on Thursday, Oct 18th at 1 PM EDT. Be sure to use #pregnancychat to follow the chat and ask questions.  

Dr. Althea Grant is the Acting Director of the Division of Blood Disorders, National Center for Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. Dr. Grant has been recognized for her contributions to developing public health programs and resources for sickle cell disease and sickle cell trait.

Ask 9 questions before pregnancy

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

Nine months of a healthy pregnancy is the best gift you can give your future baby. There are things you can do before you get pregnant to help give your baby a better chance of a healthy and full-term birth. Talk to your health care provider before and during pregnancy about you and your partners’ health and any concerns you many have. This will help you have a healthy baby.

Before getting pregnant, ask your health provider these 9 questions.

What do I need to know about:
1. Diabetes, high blood pressure, infections or other health problems?
2. Medicines or home remedies?
3. Taking a multivitamin pill with folic acid in it each day?
4. Getting to a healthy weight before pregnancy?
5. Smoking, drinking alcohol and taking illegal drugs?
6. Unsafe chemicals or other things I should stay away from at home or at work?
7. Taking care of myself and lowering my stress?
8. How long to wait between pregnancies? (Ask your health care provider what’s best for you.)
9. My family history, including premature birth? Premature birth is when your baby is born too early, before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy.

Special thanks to the celebrities Thalia and Heather Headley for helping the March of Dimes tell women about these 9 important questions.

Trying but not pregnant yet?

Monday, May 7th, 2012

coupleMany couples who want to have a baby get frustrated if they don’t get pregnant right away once they start trying. If that’s you, make an effort to relax and learn more about how everything works. There are many steps you can take to help you get pregnant. For example: 
• Learn how ovulation works and calculate when you’re most likely to ovulate. 
• Be on the lookout for signs that you’re pregnant
• Learn more about your and your partner’s family health history.

Don’t worry if you don’t get pregnant right away. Most couples who try to get pregnant do so within one year. It may not happen immediately, but chances are it’ll happen soon. If you’ve been trying for more than a year (or six months if you’re older than 35), talk to your health care provider. You can get tests to find out why you’re having problems getting pregnant. Many couples can overcome these problems without needing fertility treatments.

If you’re thinking about fertility treatment to help you get pregnant, talk to your provider about how to get safe treatment while lowering your chance of having multiples (twins, triplets or more). Having multiples can increase the likelihood that you’ll have a premature birth. Babies born prematurely can face many serious health complications, some that can last a lifetime.

You might see ads for at-home genetic tests that provide information like if you’re a carrier of certain genetic diseases that can be passed on to a child. It’s too soon to know if and how these tests can help you during pregnancy. Talk to your health provider if you have questions.