Do You Know If It “Runs in the Family”?

There are many factors that contribute to your overall health, which can include your environment, lifestyle, habits, adaptability to stress, genetics, and your family health history. Genetics and family health history make up the biological aspects of your health assessment, and while you can get genetic testing by yourself, you need to have the ability to communicate with biological family members in order to access family health history. Investigative genealogy can help you find birth family so you can ask important questions regarding family health history.

Family health history can be used to look at your potential risks for diseases, especially chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Looking at this data, you can help see what diseases you’re more likely to develop. Things to look for are diseases that occur ten to twenty years before a normal age of onset, history of the same disease in more than one relative, diseases uncommon in a certain gender, and specific combinations of diseases. This information can lead to a discussion with your healthcare provider about what changes in your lifestyle or screening tests may be needed in order to reduce your risk of getting a disease.

When you get the chance to speak with someone who is part of your birth family, the conversation can offer valuable health and wellness insight. The best way to learn about family health history is to ask plenty of questions and have access to death certificates and family medical records. The best way to get all the information needed is to cast a wide net and be willing to talk to as many family members needed such as grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and siblings. Information to collect, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, includes major medical conditions, causes of death, age of onset and age at death, and ethnic background.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognizes the importance of knowing your family health information. This is especially true if you are trying to start your own family, as you may benefit from genetic counseling depending on what your family health history uncovers. The CDC provides tools and resources for the process of collecting family health information and speaking with birth family members. This includes a booklet that helps you start the conversation about health and helps you record information so you can properly relay the information to your healthcare provider.

If you’re adopted, then speaking to your birth family could also help them gain valuable family health history from your medical background. This two-way conversation can be helpful for both parties and generations to come if properly recorded. How diseases are generationally inherited can help you get an overall picture of your risk potential and can motivate you to take steps to lessen your chance of getting a disease. Investigative genealogy can help you get the answers you need to take control of your wellness and act on your family health history.