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My investigation into my genes and family history

If you've been reading some of the blogs on this site, you probably know by now that the Biology, Culture, and Evolution class has the opportunity to do genetic testing this semester. I've always thought ancestry was fascinating, and my mom's side of the family has much more mystery surrounding our heritage so I would really like to find out what I can about that. However, I'm also looking forward to some of the information they can give me on genes more pertinent to my daily life and my future.

I am interested in the health issues that 23 and Me will test. I am especially interested in the genes for Tourette's Syndrome and restless leg syndrome. I have read some research recently that Tourette's, RLS, and other tic disorders are very closely related genetically. I have a chronic tic disorder, which is on a scale between Tourette's (requires motor and vocal tics to diagnose) and transient tic disorder (which is in kids and lasts less than a year). My mom has restless leg syndrome, but no one else in the extended family has a related disorder that I know of. Over the next few weeks I do plan on contacting my mother's sisters to see if they, there children, or their grandchildren have restless leg or tics. This is important to me because I'd like to know the likelihood that, if I do have children, they will have a tic. My family has history of stroke on both sides, so I'd like to look at the genetic side of that and how certain medications will affect that.

3 thoughts on “My investigation into my genes and family history

  1. Meghan Steel

    I agree with you about the medical aspects of DNA that could be revealed from this test, but there is one result of this 23&Me program that I don't fully understand.

    Everyone seems to be really interested in family history. Some people even know the exact cities and countries in which their relatives once lived. But, why do we all care? What difference does it make if your great grandmother lived in Bulgaria or Sicily or Namibia and Hong Kong? Is anyone expecting any surprises? Simply based on family names, I am quite obviously Western European (Steel and Saxon and Peevey from England and Baze from Germany). Of course I'll be a little shocked if I have any relatives living in Japan or India, but it's not going to affect the way I live my life or my aspirations for my future.

    I can see the application for genetic studies in a medical sense and I understand that we should analyze relationships between populations to understand prehistoric migration patterns, but I just can't seem to grasp everyone's interest in their personal ancestry. I didn't understand it when first started and I don't understand it now.

    1. Emily Barron

      I think many people simply think it's interesting. I know for me that it's more of a fun fact sort of thing that's not really necessary to know but just something that I'd find thought-provoking. Like I know on my dad's side that my ancestors left Wales in the late 1600s, but I think it'd be interesting to know more. Plus maybe I'm related to someone I know and we had no idea. That would be fun to learn.

      I don't know if this can give you specific ancestors like, but I do understand why people want to do that. It can give people a sense of meaning, of having roots somewhere and a tie to someone famous. I'm not saying it should do those things, because if you didn't know that you had a famous ancestor then it really doesn't mean much to the outside world, but I can see where people use it to be able to say that they came from something, that their family tree isn't full of nondescript people forgotten by anyone but relatives.

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