02 September 2014

Can examining old family photos help you identify potential health issues?

Though many of us research our ancestry to learn about whom we come from and the circumstances of their life, another aspect can be to compile a health history.  Whether we suffer from something which might be an inherited condition or not, it is always beneficial to have a grasp of one’s health history.

We recently talked about Who do you resemble? Are you a doppleganger for someone in your family or has the visual connection remained elusive?   This post focused more on family resemblances whether to a sibling, parent, or more distant relation.

Apparently, family photos might also help identify non-diagnosed health issues.  I recently read Scanning Family Photos Can Reveal Rare Genetic Disorders (Newsweek).

Over 7,000 rare genetic disorders are known, and although each is unique, there is at least one common thread: 30 to 40 percent of them involve detectable abnormalities in the cranium and face. The Oxford project, called Clinical Face Phenotype Space, builds on this knowledge, melding machine learning and computer technology to scan family photos and cross-reference them with a database built from images of people with known genetic disorders.

It’s nice to know that our family photos besides giving us a great visual perspective of our ancestors and  helping to identify who we might resemble, might also aid the future diagnosis of select genetic disorders.

Do family photos help us in other ways?

Editor’s Note:  Thanksgiving is designated National Family Health History Day. Upfront with NGS has discussed this Celebrate National Family Heath History day (aka Thanksgiving Day) -- Create a Health Pedigree Chart! (2013).

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