Holidays With Clan Ideal for Investigating Family Health
FRIDAY, Dec. 17 (HealthDay News) -- When your relatives get
together over the holidays, it may be a good opportunity to
investigate your family history, including its health history,
suggests a genetics expert.
Talk to your grandparents and great-grandparents and make
detailed notes about what they tell you about the health of their
immediate family -- parents, siblings and children. Record names,
birth dates, year of death and any health problems experienced by
those people, said Lynn Holt, director of the School of Health
Professions Genetic Counseling program at the University of Alabama
"The holidays are a great time to collect your family history. Most people don't know much about the family history beyond their first-degree relatives, their own parents and siblings," Holt said in a university news release.
Ask your older relatives if any of their siblings died during
childhood and, if so, why? This type of information can be
"We sometimes hear people say they've been told their mother's brother dropped dead at age 20, for example," Holt said. "It's important to find out why; was it because of a genetic heart condition that you might have inherited, or is it simply that brother was guilty of some accident that nobody wants to talk about?"
You should also ask about health issues such as cancer, heart
disease, diabetes, mental health disorders and other common
The best way to glean this type of information is to speak
individually with each older relative. Many would welcome the
opportunity to share the family history and memories of deceased
loved ones, Holt said.
Once you have your family health history, share it with your
doctor in order to determine if you need to undergo evaluation for
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more
family health history.
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