Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Leaves on Your Medical Family Tree

When I was young, I often had a school assignment to create a family tree. It was a good excuse for my grandparents to help me with my homework.

Creating a medical family tree, or a family health history, for your child could be an even more important project for grandparents to help with. It could mean a longer and healthier life for your children (or yourself). Collecting medical information about your family can help identify whether you have higher risk for some diseases. That knowledge can help in looking for early warning signs of disease, and allow for steps to reduce the risk of disease.

As you consider your approach to this research, remember that some people are reluctant to share health information, even with their own family. You may want to thoughtfully plan who you want to include, what you want to ask, and when would be the best time to ask.

Here are some websites with reliable health information that might help you through the process.
Compiling Your Medical Family Tree, from the Mayo Clinic, provides information on gathering information.

My Family Health Portrait  is a tool from the Surgeon General that will allow you to enter and save information that you can update over time.
Family History Fact Sheet describes drawing a family tree called a "pedigree". The information is  provided by National Society of Genetic Counselors.
So the next time you invite relatives to a family event, you will be ready to start your medical family tree. The information you gather could benefit your family through the generations.

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