The information that is in your family tree reveals much more than who you are related to, and how you are related to them. It is also a research tool that can be used to reveal important health information! There are many conditions, diseases, and disorders that can be genetically passed down from ancestors to their descendants. The more you know about what runs in your family, the better prepared you will be to make decisions about your own health.
My Family Health Portrait is a tool that is from the U.S. Surgeon General. This is an internet based research tool that assembles a “pedigree” family tree that you can download and print out. It takes about fifteen or twenty minutes to create a basic health history about your family. Naturally, the larger your family, the longer it might take. You can share your family health history with one or more of your relatives, who can have the information reformatted so that it centers around them, instead of around you. If you learn more information, you can add it to your saved family health portrait later on.
What can you do with this health portrait? You can give a copy to your primary care doctor, or health care practitioner. The doctor can use the information in it to help determine what diseases you personally are at risk for. He or she can then make recommendations about what you can do to reduce your risk of developing those diseases. The doctor can also be on the lookout for the early warning signs that indicate that you might be starting to develop that disease, disorder, or condition.
Only around one-third of Americans actually have taken the time to gather together enough relevant information about the health of their ancestors and their living relatives to be of any realistic use. The website My Family Health Portrait is an excellent tool to use to help you document precise conditions, instead of vague ideas about what might have been ailing a particular relative. The more you know about what is in your genes, the more you can use it to not only improve your health, but to be aware of potential health risks that your children, and their children, may develop.