If you are an unmarried father in Virginia, establishing that you are the legal father of a child through a paternity test can do more than grant you custody rights. Establishing legal paternity also grants your child access to the medical history of your own family. Therefore, you open the door for your child to understand possible medical risks and even grant your child possible lifesaving information.

 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains that your family medical history can help the doctor who treats your child to properly diagnose a disease or disorder that your child may suffer from. Sometimes a doctor may not diagnose a condition properly, since some diseases may produce the same or similar symptoms. Without the correct diagnosis, your child may take longer to recover, or further complications could result.

Your family medical history can also reveal possible health risks in advance. Your parents, grandparents, or other family members may be prone to certain health conditions. Since your child shares your family’s genetics, it is possible your child may manifest one or more of those conditions. If this is the case, your child’s doctor might suggest a screening test to see if your child is likely to manifest a health problem.

Additionally, knowing that your child may be at risk for a disease or ailment can motivate you and your family to make some lifestyle choices to help your child ward off the problem. Some conditions, like diabetes or heart disease, can be headed off with sound lifestyle habits like proper eating and exercise. While these actions are no guarantee of stopping a health problem, they might still delay an ailment or disease and improve the quality of your child’s life.

As the Mayo Clinic points out, when your child knows your medical history, your child can also assess the risks of passing on certain medical risks to his or her children. By knowing your family medical history, your offspring can properly prepare when deciding to start a family, which may include screening tests or just to be on the lookout for possible medical conditions that may manifest in their own children.