Although traditionally regarded as a rather minor part of the new patient medical history, the accurate documentation of a proband's family history is essential to assessing risk. The family structure, including all relevant known relatives, alive and dead, should be represented as a pedigree. The symbols commonly used to construct pedigrees are shown in Figure 22.1, and an example of the documentation of relationships between family members is represented in Figure 22.2.
Several computer-based software packages exist for the drawing of pedigrees, and the type of software used by the clinic will depend on needs. Packages available range from those that will simply draw pedigrees (PedDraw, San Antonio, TX) to those that can deal with genetic marker data and include integrated relational databases (Progeny, South Bend, IN).
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