Common Health Problems Your Child Can Inherit From You


health problems

When we look at kids, we mostly focus on the physical attributes they share with their parents – eyes, shape of head, nose, mouth, etc. Some attributes are understated while others are so striking that there’s no need for a DNA test, should there be any doubters. However, not only do kids inherit physical attributes, they also inherit some of their parents’ health problems.

There are ‘simple’ issues such as allergies and eyesight while there are also possibilities of chronic conditions which run in families. Family history alone doesn’t guarantee that a child will develop one of them though. Instead, it signals increased risk. Usually, it’s a combination of genetics and environmental influences that triggers a condition, for instance, eczema.

While you can’t change your kid’s genes, you can get familiar with a few of the most common health problems that affect families and learn how to protect yours.

1. Vision Problems

Nearsightedness, colour blindness, and lazy eye (amblyopia) are often inherited. If both parents are nearsighted, a child has a 25 to 50 percent chance. Only females carry and transmit the gene for colour blindness, but only males usually have the condition. If the mother is a carrier of the gene, there’s a 50 percent chance her son will have it.

Warning signs: frequent headaches, squinting or tears when reading/watching TV. Children may not complain about nearsightedness until they’re school-age, but it can be detected as early as age 3. Lazy eye can emerge during the first year, but it can be difficult to catch unless the paediatrician screens for it. Don’t worry too much if your infant’s eyes cross now and then — almost all kids’ do in the first couple of months; if you notice crossing along with a difference in pupil size after that, schedule an exam. As for colour blindness, you’ll usually know by age 5.

What you can do: If eye problems run in your family (and even if they don’t), it’s smart to start regular eye exams with a paediatric optometrist or ophthalmologist by age 1.

2. Eczema

Nearsightedness, colour blindness, and lazy eye (amblyopia) are often inherited. If both parents are nearsighted, a child has a 25 to 50 percent chance. Only females carry and transmit the gene for colour blindness, but only males usually have the condition. If the mother is a carrier of the gene, there’s a 50 percent chance her son will have it.

Warning signs: frequent headaches, squinting or tears when reading/watching TV. Children may not complain about nearsightedness until they’re school-age, but it can be detected as early as age 3. Lazy eye can emerge during the first year, but it can be difficult to catch unless the paediatrician screens for it. Don’t worry too much if your infant’s eyes cross now and then — almost all kids’ do in the first couple of months; if you notice crossing along with a difference in pupil size after that, schedule an exam. As for colour blindness, you’ll usually know by age 5.

What you can do: If eye problems run in your family (and even if they don’t), it’s smart to start regular eye exams with a paediatric optometrist or ophthalmologist by age 1.

What Are The Chances My Child Will Inherit A Condition?

3. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

People who suffer from IBS are more than twice as likely to have a first-degree relative with the same symptoms, according to research from the University of Sydney in Australia.

Warning signs: The classic symptoms are frequent abdominal cramps or alternating bouts of constipation and diarrhoea. IBS usually appears during the school years, but precursors, like colic, may be apparent earlier in a child’s life.

What you can do: If you suspect your child has IBS, have him checked out by your paediatrician. If the problem turns out to be IBS, it can usually be managed with lifestyle changes. That may mean avoiding certain foods that might be triggers, adding probiotics, etc.

4. Mental Health Problems

It’s not just physical vulnerabilities that your child can inherit from you. Certain psychological and emotional issues can also be a family affair. There’s a strong genetic component to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), as well as to several moods and anxiety disorders, including depression, bipolar disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Warning signs: watch out for unusual sadness, irritability, anxiety, inattention, or a change in appetite, sleep, or ability to enjoy things.

What you can do: While it may feel harder to reveal a history of mental health problems to your paediatrician, it is important that you do. That way, if your child develops certain ‘symptoms’ the doctor may be able to zero in on the cause and get your child help a lot sooner.

 

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