Your physical traits, like your hair and skin color, are not the only things that are passed down to you from your family. Your likelihood of getting health conditions, like diabetes or asthma, can also be inherited.
With your family’s medical history, your doctor can:
- Figure out your chances of getting certain diseases.
- Offer additional screenings.
- Counsel you on what you can do to help keep from developing a particular disease.
- Assess the risk of you passing down these conditions to your children.
Your medical family tree is not an exact picture of your health. It gives your doctor more information about medical conditions that you may face.
Creating a Medical Family Tree
When you are making a family medical tree, ask your family members:
- Do they have any medical conditions? For example, diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or any cancers.
- Do they have any mental health conditions? For example, depression, substance abuse, or alcoholism.
- Do they smoke?
When you talk with your family members:
- Be clear about why creating a medical family tree is important for the entire family.
- Offer to share the complete project with the family, or to keep it confidential. They can take it to their doctor’s visits too.
- Listen carefully. Respect the privacy of what your relatives share with you. Only share your medical family tree with relatives and your doctors.
You can choose to gather all of your information however it works for you. If you want to create a medical family tree using the Internet, visit My Family Health Portrait.