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Are You Destined to Become Your Mother?

You would be happy to inherit your mom's wit, but not her health problems. Learn which genetic risks you face and how to protect your health.

By Stacey Colino
Nancy London and her mother, JoyDitte Isager



If your mom (or dad) has low bone density, “your risk for osteoporosis is about double that of someone who doesn’t have a family history,” says Felicia Cosman, M.D., an osteoporosis specialist in West Haverstraw, New York. To mitigate that risk, consume 1,000 to 1,500 milligrams of calcium and at least 1,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily, and eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Weight-bearing aerobic exercise on most days and strength-training exercises two to three times a week can also help you to build and maintain bone density.

Pregnancy and Labor

Too many variables affect pregnancy—including a woman’s own anatomy, how old she is, the state of her health, and whether it’s a first or fourth child—for there to be a strong link between your mother’s experience and your own. Plus, changes in the way that medicine is practiced could give you a very different experience from your mom’s: “Today doctors do C-sections for situations like breech babies and multiples. That wasn’t the case when your mother had kids,” says Montgomery.

Substance Abuse

“Children of alcoholics have a three- to fourfold greater risk of developing alcoholism,” says Michael Weaver, M.D., an addiction medical specialist in Richmond. Although there’s less research on drug abuse, a similar risk is thought to apply. If you have such a background, it’s essential to monitor your consumption or stop altogether. “Sometimes it’s easier to say, ‘None at all,’ when there is a known genetic risk than to wonder, How much is too much?” says Weaver.

Read More About:Preventative Health

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