A first degree relative is a family member who shares about 50 percent of their genes with a particular individual in a family. First degree relatives include parents, offspring, and siblings.
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When you visit with a genetic counselor, one of the first things that they might ask you about is your first degree relatives. And by that they mean your parents, your sisters and brothers, and your children. Each of your first degree relatives shares half of their genetic information in common with you, and so we would expect that things that occur in families are likely to be revealed when we look at relatives who are closely related.
Barbara Bowles Biesecker, Ph.D.
Associate Investigator, Social and Behavioral Research Branch; Head, Genetic Services Research Unit; Director, JHU/NHGRI Genetic Counseling Training Program
Ms. Biesecker's research and teaching activities focus on making genetic counseling as effective as possible, which is a growing challenge as new genetic technologies generate an avalanche of data and questions about the meaning of genetic tests. This data has highlighted the fact that behavioral researchers do not yet know enough about the best ways to help people decide how to use their own genetic information in making health and reproductive decisions. Since genetic counseling has a relatively sparse amount of research to guide its professionals, Ms. Biesecker and her colleagues are on the cutting edge of genetic counseling research.