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Life factors can be divided into four categories and these are:

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* Genetic factors

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* Biological factors

* Environmental factors

* Socio-economic factors

* Lifestyle factors

Genetic factors

Genetic predisposition to certain diseases

The occurrence of many common diseases of adult life and birth defects have strong genetic elements, because of this a large amount of genes each act in a small way but it is significant to ensure whether the person is going to have the genetic condition.

Scientists have studied identical and non-identical twins to find out whether people have a genetic disposition

Phenylketonuira may be treated by putting the person on a diet which limits how much phenylketonuira is put into their body system. Testing as early as possible is essential because the symptoms are not present in a new born baby. Screen testing has now been essential for all babies. The diet needs to be started as soon as possible as retardation in the mind may start. There is an argument about how long the diet needs to be in place. This disease affects one in around 11,000 people.

Cystic fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis affects in person in around 3,000 and around 7,500 people are affected in the UK.

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People with this condition have extra mucus in their lungs and they are not able to clear the airways of this extra mucus, they can also have breathing problems, and because of the inability to clear their airways they can develop chest infections as micro-organisms get trapped in the lungs. Physiotherapy is needed every day to clear the mucus of the lungs.

People with cystic fibrosis have to have parents who both carry the cystic fibrosis gene in their DNA, as it is an inherited disease. Carriers of this disease don’t show symptoms of this as they carry one ‘normal’ lung which is why a person with cystic fibrosis have inherited if from both parents as both parents would have one lung with the genes.

Down’s syndrome

Those who have Down’s syndrome tend to have similar physical characteristic like a rounded face but with flat profile, with eyes that slant upwards. Children who have this disease learn slower than other children and will reach milestones such a talking or walking later than other children, and they may not even be able to talk until they are two or three years old. If a person with Down’s syndrome has support and treatment their life expectancy is 60 years old.

A person with Down’s syndrome have 47 chromosomes instead of the normal 26 chromosomes, the cell number 21 has been copied three times so instead of having 23 chromosomes the ovum has 24 which is called trisomy. This can happen in any women but the older the woman the more chance of having a child with Down’s syndrome.

Age of mother

Risk of having a Down’s syndrome baby

20-29

1:1500

30-34

1:750

35-39

1:600

40-44

1:300

45+

1:60

Down’s syndrome can be detected before the birth of the baby using a procedure called amniocentesis. Amniocentesis is a procedure which involves taking a sample of the amniotic fluid in the women’s abdomen they get the fluid by putting a needle through the abdomen of the mother and then into the uterus. The fluid contains cells that have been cast off from the baby. The cells are cultured and their chromosomes are then examined.

Of the 600 diseases that are genetic around a third of them can be detected using the amniocentesis method. Even though it may be able to detect many genetic diseases it’s not without a risk, those who have the procedure are of risk of miscarrying the baby. It is usually offered to older women because of their risk of having a child with Down’s syndrome. Chronic villus sampling is another way of detecting genetic diseases; this takes a sample of the embryonic tissue from the placenta. It can be performed earlier than amniocentesis but this procedure carries more of a miscarriage risk.

Sickle-cell anaemia

Sickle-cell anaemia is inherited and is it where there is an abnormality in the haemoglobin, which is the protein that carries the oxygen and is found in the red blood cells. It is caused when there is an alteration in a DNA base which leaves to the substitution of one of the amino acids that make up haemoglobin. This changes the haemoglobin significantly that makes the red blood cells sickle shaped.

The sickle cell shaped blood cells are not able to pass through the capillaries easy and so they can get blocked there and make it painful and damaging to the organs as oxygen isn’t able to pass through the capillaries. The blocking of a blood vessel causes an attack known as a crisis. A crisis is likely to occur when the person with sickle cell anaemia also has another illness like a cold. The liver, kidney, lungs, heart and the spleen can all become damaged and cause pain. The red blood cells break up easy resulting in anaemia.

Everyone has two copies of the haemoglobin gene one copy from each parent. Those who have sickle-cell anaemia have two genes that creates the sickle shape haemoglobin, if you have one sickle cell gene and the normal gene the person is said to have the sickle cell trait and the only time they are at risk of having a crisis is when they are having major surgery.

More than 600 people have sickle cell anaemia, and the majority of these people are of African Caribbean descent. Finding out whether a baby has sickle cell anaemia can be tested by using chronic villus sampling. There is no cure for sickle cell anaemia however with treatment and recognition of the condition as soon as possible can reduce the complications and the severity and frequency of crises. Bone marrow transplants have been used in cases.

Biological factors

Biological factors can affect the foetus in the womb, whether the mother smokes or drinks can have an effect on the baby.

Foetal alcohol syndrome

Drinking alcohol can have a major effect on the brain of the baby developing in the womb. The alcohol can cross the placenta and can stunt the growth and how much the baby weighs and can even cause damage which could be permanent on the central nervous system. Babies who have foetal alcohol syndrome can have distinctive facial features.

Infections during pregnancy

Infections are just a part of life, and many of them will not harm an unborn baby.

Colds, coughs, flu are unlikely to cause any harm to the unborn baby, even urinary infections like thrush should cause no problems to the baby. However sexually transmitted disease like Chlamydia and gonorrhoea can be passed onto the baby when giving birth and can cause eye infections. Chickenpox is a virus but many people have antibodies to protect themselves so it’s hardly contracted. If a pregnant woman has come into contact with the virus they can get their doctor to check them for these antibodies.

Not all viruses are un-harmful to a baby; rubella (German measles) can present birth defects in half of women who get the virus in the first month of pregnancy. The rate of birth defects decreases to 20% in the second month and then to 10% in the third month.

The effects that rubella can cause are:

* Eye defects (cataracts, glaucoma and maybe even blindness)

* Deafness

* Heart defects

* Mental retardation

The risk of birth defects due to rubella drops considerably after three months of pregnancy and after the twentieth week of pregnancy there are rarely any complications. Thankfully rubella is rare today because all babies are vaccinated against it and teenage girls get tested if they have antibodies against rubella and if they haven’t, they get vaccinated. Since 1969 most girls got tested and vaccinated against rubella.

Environmental factors

Water and sanitation

The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that the quality of water is an issue of concern because having unclean drinking water can cause many problems like:

* Infectious agents

* Toxic chemicals

* Radiological hazards

Most of the UK’s water standards are based on the guidelines of the World Health Organisation. The standards include safety margins and cover

* Bacteria

* Chemicals like pesticides

* Metals like lead

* They look and taste of the water

Today our water is made safe because of chlorine. It is an essential part of the purification process used by water companies to supply our houses with water and to make sure that the discharges of waste water to the river and seas are safe.

Pollution

The two forms of pollution are the air and water pollution. Air pollution is the cause of health problems all over the world. Urban and rural outdoor environments contain toxicants and irritants which reduce the quality of life and can cause disease. The main causes of pollution are:

* Smoke can contain particles of carbon and tar which comes from burning coal either in power stations or in the home. The tarry drops contain a chemical which can cause cancer.

* Sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides-when oil and coal is burned they release sulphur dioxide in the air. The sulphur dioxide dissolves in the rainwater and it forms an acid which then creates the acid rain. Nitrogen oxides form nitric acid another form of acid rain. Acid rain can irritate the lungs and skin.

* Smog is a thick fog which occurs in cities in certain climates and is usually created from a mixture of smoke and fog. Smog is irritating to the lung and to the eyes.

* Carbon monoxide is produced when the fuels don’t burn together completely in the engine of cars and this is also present in cigarettes. When it is inhaled the carbon monoxide combines with the haemoglobin and it forms in the blood to make carboxyhaemoglobin, and this make the blood less able to carry oxygen.

* Chlorofluorocarbons- this is used as refrigerants and as propellant in the aerosol cans. They react with the ozone in the atmosphere which protects us from the sun’s rays which are ultraviolet.

The Access to leisure and recreational facilities

Access to leisure and recreational facilities are essential for people to keep kick and to also feel good. It also helps people with their emotional and social needs as people who go to these places will get to know people from there and they will bond with people.

Access to health and social care facilities

The health and social care facilities have been split into three sections:

* The public (statutory) sectors

* The private sector

* The voluntary sector

The private and voluntary sectors are sometimes referred to as the independent sector as it needs no money from the government to help run the accommodation. Informal care is given by friends and family. The UK has a ‘mixed economy of care’ this is because of the different ways in which funding is given to different care sectors.

Statutory carers are the Local Authorities and the NHS trusts, the independent carers are private sector agencies and voluntary sector agencies.

Barriers to accessing health and social care services

Factors that can stop people accessing health and social care services are called barriers to access. Some of the barriers can change the way in which an organisation operates. However not all barriers to access are the organisations fault.

There are several barriers to access:

* Opening times

* Unfair discrimination

* No wheelchair access

* Waiting lists

* Attitudes and prejudices

* Labelling and stereotyping

* Costs

* Lack of information

* Language

Access to employment and income

Access to employment and income are based on the qualifications you have, your language and communication skills.

Education

The education levels of individual people can affect the job they have and the amount of money they get paid. Knowing about issues like eating healthily, smoking related illnesses all of which we can learn from our education which can benefit a person’s development physically.

The more education a person has, the more their intellectual development. Older people do crosswords keep their minds active, and by doing these crosswords they are likely to improve their memory. Education can bring out confidence in a person, which then leads to higher self-esteem. People meet people who are like-minded when they attend evening classes, which will make their social development expand.

Qualifications

If you are more qualified for the job then you have more of a chance of getting the job. Not only do qualifications secure the job but it also secures your wage and therefore your standard of living.

Socio-economic is from those who we hang around with (social) and how much money we spend (economy)

Social class

There are two main elements that define the social class of a person and that are their job and skills. There have been changes in how social class has been defined.

In 1921, the Registrar General set up five social classes in a classification. It was then modified in 1971 as many job classes changed.

At the beginning of the century, the classification got modified once again; it was updated to reflect the innovations associated with technological developments and also the increased educational attainment of entering the labour market. For all official statistics and surveys the office for Statistic’s socio-economical classification is the one to use.

There are loads of links between health and social class. A report was made by Douglas Black in 1980 called Inequalities in Health One and it made a discovery that in 1971 those who are unskilled workers have a death rate of nearly twice of those who were skilled and professional workers.

Income, expenditure and employment status

Social class is determined by our job. The income is more to do with the job we do. You may presume that because of the large amount a person makes means they have a better standard of life, however that person could have two families to support meaning that is where most of their money will be going and therefore their standard of living may not be as good as expected.

Unemployment dropped from 3 million in 1995 to 1.5 million in 2001. Since that there has been a gradual decline in unemployment rates. Long-term unemployment can have damaging effects in all development effects. If there’s less money being bought in the house there will be little to spend on good and nutritious food and because of little money they won’t be able to go out.

Housing

One of the aims of the modern welfare state (founded in 1945) was to make affordable houses. There have been links to poor housing conditions to a premature death and chronic illness. A damp house may create asthma and a cramped house can damage a person’s development as they won’t have any time for themselves.

Family, community, peer groups, media values and attitudes

Our first socialisation is with our family and our development is affected loads by the people that are around us. Our second socialisation is with people in the community like friends, teachers and our work colleagues. Our friends are part of our peer group as they share the same characteristics like age. Peer groups have a great influence on childhood development and as an adolescent; they influence us more than our immediate family and parents. The expectations of a peer group can affect an adolescent’s social attitudes, self worth and their values and beliefs. Albert Bandura made it clear how important peer pressure and roles models are on shaping the behaviour of people.

The media can affect our views; they can do this through advertising, soaps and even documentaries

Discrimination, culture and beliefs, gender and bullying

People who live in the UK are allowed to enjoy their life free from discrimination on the grounds of race (culture and beliefs), gender, sexual orientation, disability and in age there is even legislation in place to support this. Discrimination happens when one group if people or just one person are treated different to another person or a group of people. Prejudice is the main cause of people discriminating. As prejudice is when a person makes a judgement on a specific person or group of people which can be based on inaccurate information or unreasonable judgements.

When one race believes they are better than any other ethnic groups and this is racism. In the UK is affects mainly the emotional development of members of black and minority ethnic groups. Gender discrimination is when a man gets paid more than the woman even though they are both doing the same work. Bullying can have a harmful affect on a person’s emotional development. Bullying can be in any form physical or even mental. How severe the bullying is can also differ.

Lifestyle factors

We have some control over our lifestyle factors. By having a good lifestyle people can have a longer life. A healthy lifestyle can have a positive impact on emotional and social development. Learning about healthy living can impact positively on intellectual development.

Nutrition and dietary choices

There are aspects of nutrition and diet choices which are important to personal development.

The food we eat provides the energy to our body to carry out the chemical reactions which enable us to move and for our cells to repair and build themselves. Our diets should be balanced and they should contain carbohydrates, fats and proteins as well as vitamins, minerals and fibre. The proportions of these we need change depending on our life stage. Some of the effects of nutrition and diet include

* Low birth weight in babies is linked to poor maternal nutrition

* Plenty of vitamins folic acid being the main one is important to keep the embryonic development normal in pregnant women

* Calcium and vitamin D are important for bone growth

* Diets that have lots of fibre are linked to a reduction of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease

* High salt intake may lead to high blood pressure

* Additional iron helps avoid anaemia due to menstruation

Exercise

Exercise is good for a person because it increases their stamina and muscle strength and it can have a positive effect on physical growth and development. Any form of exercise that raises the rate of the heart by one-third at least of its normal value beneficial for the cardiovascular system and it reduces the chance of developing heart disease. The type of exercise changes the older we get; brisk walking is good as it means the elder people can take a form of exercise without it being too demanding.

Exercise can also positively affect people emotionally as it increases confidence and self esteem, intellectually because it encourages thinking and it also push planning skills. Socially it provides a place for people to work together.

Stress

Stress is when you can’t cope with everyday life, when stress occurs adrenaline is released which creates the ‘flight’ or ‘fight’ hormone. Stress can affect the way we are with other people; it can also however make us ill. People believe stress is a part of life and to only be concerned if it reaches an excessive amount, others say that it’s always a bad thing but people sometime work better when they are under a little stress.

Substance abuse

‘the continual misuse of any mind altering substance which severely interferes with an individual’s physical and mental health, social situation and responsibilities’ is how the Mental Health Foundation defines substance abuse.

Smoking

Lung cancer, bronchitis and emphysema are diseases. The tar in tobacco is what can cause cancer, and the gases in the smoke destroy the cilia (the hairs) on the cells which line the respiratory passage. This means that dust particles that are usually blocked from finding their way into the lungs are now able to get into the lungs.

In the last 50 years there has been a decrease in smoking rates across all age groups, the biggest decrease being in the 50 and over’s. People who are in their 20s are the ones with the highest rate compared to everyone else.

Alcohol

Alcohol is misused either when a person drinks excessively or people become dependent on it. There is lots of health risks linked to drinking the maximum recommended amount of alcohol.

14 units a week for women and 21 units a week for a man.

Among teenagers and young people there is this culture of ‘binge’ drinking, this involves drinking lots especially on a weekend. The consumption of alcohol in teenage boys is decreasing where as for teenage girls it is increasing.

Drugs

Amphetamines (speed), cocaine (crack) and MDMA (ecstasy) are the most commonly misused drugs. All the drugs are class A, but if amphetamines is taken by the mouth instead of being injected it is then classes as a class B drug. There are three class types for illegal drugs, A, B and C. Class A being classed as the most dangerous.

If you posses a class A drug the maximum penalty you will face is 7 years in prison and a fine, if you’re supplying drugs you will get life and a fine. If you possess a class B drug you will have 5 years in prison and a fine, if you’re supplying a class B drug you get 14 years in prison and a fine. Class c possession you will get 2 years in prison and a fine and if you’re supplying class C drugs you will get 14 years in prison and a fine.

Misusing drugs can lead and sometimes does lead to a fatal physical illness. If you are injecting drugs there is a chance of infection by sharing the hypodermic needles. Taking drugs can lead to problems psychologically mad socially. It is common for those who take drugs to turn to crime to pay for their habits.

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Kylie Garcia

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