Creating a family health history
A family health history is a record of a family's health information. It includes your health information and that of your grandparents, aunts and uncles, parents, and siblings.
Many health problems tend to run in families. Creating a family history can help you and your family be aware of possible health risks so you can take steps to reduce them.
Family health history; Create a family health history; Family medical history
What Is a Family History?
Many factors affect your health. These include your:
Family members tend to share certain behaviors, genetic traits, and habits. Creating a family history can help you identify the specific risks that influence your health and your family's health.
For example, having a family member with a condition such as diabetes may increase your risk of getting it. The risk is higher when:
Serious diseases such as heart diseases, diabetes, cancer, and stroke are more likely to run in families. You can share this information with your health care provider who can suggest ways to reduce your risk.
What Should Be Included in Your Family Health History?
For a complete family medical history, you will need health information about your:
You can ask for this information at family gatherings or reunions. You may need to explain:
You can even offer to share what you find with other family members.
For a complete picture of each relative, find out:
Ask these same questions about any relatives who have died.
How Will a Family History Help You and Your Family?
Share your family history with your provider and your child's provider. Your provider can use this information to help lower your risk for certain conditions or diseases. For example, your provider may recommend certain tests, such as:
Your provider also may suggest lifestyle changes to help reduce your risk. These may include:
Having a family health history can also help protect your child's health:
When to Create Your Family History
Everyone can benefit from a family history. Create your family history as soon as you can. It is especially useful when:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Family health history: the basics. www.cdc.gov/genomics/famhistory/famhist_basics.htm. Updated July 18, 2017. Accessed January 17, 2019.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Family health history for adults. www.cdc.gov/genomics/famhistory/famhist_adults.htm. Updated July 18, 2018. Accessed January 17, 2019.
Scott DA, Lee B. Patterns of genetic transmission. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St. Geme JW, Schor NF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 80.
Review Date: 10/8/2018
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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