After months of hard work, the Illinois Department of Health and the Center for Jewish Genetics are proud to present these DNA Day 2016 materials to you. Please contact William Haben at firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions on how you can obtain physical copies.
The Center for Jewish Genetics coordinated with the Illinois Department of Public Health and iNet (Illinois Network for Education and Training) to provide this year’s Professional Education Activity. Please click on the link below to view the 2016 DNA Day webinar: A Hearty Look at Men’s Health.
Join us on April 12th at 12:00 pm by registering here: http://www.icahn.org/professional-education/programs/?id=188
By Karen Litwack, Angelique Mercier, and William Haben
Diseases that run in families are often connected to certain genes. Some diseases, such as Tay-Sachs disease, are based on single gene mutations, while others are based on a combination of genes, lifestyle and environmental factors. Many genetic mutations occur more frequently in specific ethnic groups (like Ashkenazi Jews) than in the general population, so knowing your family history, as well as your parents’ and grandparents’ ethnicity and your ancestors’ countries of origin, can help family members determine whether they are at risk for certain diseases.
Why is determining your level of risk important? Because depending on the disease and your risk level, you may meet standards for more frequent or different methods of prevention/ screening. The two risk levels are familial risk, which means that you have a slightly higher chance of getting the disease (2 to 3 times) because someone in your family has been affected and hereditary risk, which means you have a much higher chance of getting the disease (up to 50 – 100%) than people in the general population because your risk is based on gene mutations inherited directly from either one or both parents.
This is why it is so important to collect as much family history information as possible. The idea of familial risk takes into account not only shared genes and genetic information, but also shared environment and lifestyle factors. The risk for an individual to develop cardiovascular disease is higher if there is a history of these diseases already in the family. For example, familial risk is seen in the following way: if you have a brother or sister with cardiovascular disease (CVD), your risk may be up to 45% higher to develop cardiovascular disease than if you did not have a brother or sister with CVD.
An example of hereditary risk is an inherited condition called Familial Hypercholesterolemia (FH). Individuals with FH have very high levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) in their blood, which can lead to premature cardiovascular disease and associated complications, if left untreated. FH is caused by a change in a gene (called a mutation), that is passed down from someone’s mother or father in an autosomal dominant manner. This meant that if an individual has just one copy of the gene mutation, they will develop FH. An individual with FH has a 1 in 2 (or 50%) chance to pass it down to their children. If an individual inherits an FH-causing mutation from both their mother and their father, they will develop a more severe form of FH. If diagnosed early, individuals with FH can be monitored and treated through both medication and lifestyle changes (such as not smoking, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet), which helps delay or prevent serious complications associated with high cholesterol levels, which can include heart attacks and strokes. FH is more common in certain populations, including Ashkenazi Jews, French Canadians, Lebanese, and South African Afrikaners.
For cardiovascular disease, as well as many other health conditions, you not only need to consider family health history and background, but also personal risk factors, such as your environment and/or lifestyle, to determine your risk. A genetic counselor can help you calculate your chance of being affected by a wide range of diseases and work with your healthcare team to create a personalized plan for the next steps to maximize your health and the health of your family.
To find a genetic counselor near you, please visit the National Society of Genetic Counselors (www.nsgc.org).
Take a look at some not-so-common tips for keeping your heart healthy as the new year is underway! heart-health-infographic
As we prepare for the upcoming holidays, it is important to note that Thanksgiving is National Family Health History day. Take a moment to read about the importance of family health history and how you can take advantage of the holidays to learn more about yours! 2015 FAMILY HEALTH HISTORY CARD
Do you, a family member, or a friend have questions about newborn screening? Check out this link below for frequently asked questions about newborn screening procedures. We think you will find it extremely helpful:
The Center for Jewish Genetics coordinated with the Illinois Department of Public Health and iNet (Illinois Network for Education and Training) to provide this year’s Professional Education Activity. Please click on the link below to view this year’s DNA Day webinar: The Importance of Online Family Health History Tools in Your Practice.