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Family History Initiative

Related Terms

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Background

  • The Family History Initiative is a project to help individuals track genetic diseases in their families. Many different human diseases are a result of a mutation or error in a gene. Genes are sequences of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) that contain instructions for making proteins. Mutations in a gene may lead to defective or reduced levels of specific proteins, which may in turn lead to a disease. Proteins are important because they carry out many functions in the body.
  • Genes are passed down from generation to generation in a family. Healthy individuals have two copies of most genes. One copy is inherited from the mother, and one from the father. Mutations, or errors, in genes may lead to an individual developing a genetic disease. To inherit the trait for an autosomal recessive disease such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy, both copies of a specific gene must be defective in order for the disease to appear. To inherit the trait for an autosomal dominant disease, such as polycystic kidney disease, only one copy of the gene must be defective for the disease to appear.
  • Genes are located in a compartment of the cell called the nucleus and are contained in structures in the nucleus called chromosomes. Chromosomes are made up of DNA and proteins, and each chromosome contains hundreds of genes. Humans have 46 chromosomes in each cell (22 pairs of autosomes and one pair of sex chromosomes). Humans receive one copy of each autosome from each parent. Additionally, humans have two sex chromosomes in each cell. Females have two X chromosomes and males have one X chromosome (inherited from the mother) and one Y (inherited from the father).
  • Some genetic diseases are inherited in an X-linked pattern, meaning that the genetic mutation causing the disease is located on the X chromosome. Some genetic diseases are caused by mutations on autosomes.
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Methods

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Research

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Implications

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Limitations

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Safety

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Future Research

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.