National Family Health History Day has been recognized since 2004 during the month of November and is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Family Health History Day is celebrated on Thanksgiving. Over this holiday when families gather (even if it’s virtually this year), the Surgeon General (@) encourages them to discuss and record the health problems that run in their family. Sharing your family’s health history with your doctor provides an invaluable tool for your health care.
Your family health history can help your health care practitioner provide better care for you. It can help identify whether you have higher risk for some diseases. It can help your health care practitioner recommend actions for reducing your personal risk of disease. And it can help in looking for early warning signs of disease.
The Surgeon General’s “My Family Health Portrait” is an internet-based tool that makes it easy for you to record your family health history. The tool is easy to access on the web and simple to fill out. It assembles your information and makes a “pedigree” family tree that you can download. It is private–it does not keep your information. It gives you a health history that you can share with family members or send to your health care practitioner.
The tool allows you to:
- Enter your family health history
- Learn about your risk for conditions that can run in families
- Print your family health history to share with family or your health care provider
- Save your family health history so you can update it over time
Why is understanding your family health portrait so important? Because it can show you a picture of your family’s generations and the health disorders that may have moved from one generation to the next. That is a powerful tool for you and your health care provider to have when predicting diseases you may be at risk for.
A PDF version of the tool is also available in English and Spanish if you prefer to gather and record your family history by hand.
By collecting health information from relatives, individuals and families are taking the first step towards preventing diseases or health conditions. Family history cannot be changed — but sharing the history with health care providers can help to identify strategies to reduce risk for diseases like diabetes and heart disease in the future. Making healthy choices is important for everyone, but it is especially important for those at higher risk because of a family history of disease.
More information on the Surgeon General’s My Family Health Portrait is available at the Surgeon General’s My Family Health History Initiative webpage.
Have a safe and happy holiday from all of us at Answers Media Network.