Do you have a full picture of your health? Do you know about all of the illnesses, surgeries, or health conditions you’ve experienced during your lifetime? If not, you may want to start with a simple review of your medical records to make sure you’re able to discuss your health history with your health care provider. If you do not have access to your medical records, it may be time for a conversation with a parent or guardian to make sure you know your entire health history, and to gain access to your medical records from your childhood.
How about health conditions in your family? Chronic health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, or cancer are more common in some families than others. This could be due to heredity/genes, or it may be related to health habits like diet and exercise, or living environments that family members have in common.
Whatever the common link, it’s important to know about your family’s health so you can know what you might be at a higher risk for and prepare for your future. To get a better picture of your risk for hereditary health issues, you should know the health history of parents and grandparents on both sides of your family, as well as first cousins, aunts, and uncles. Awareness is key to prevention, decision making, and early detection.
Do you have questions about what can be passed from one generation to the next? Check out our favorite health history resources & tools:
Family Health History Facts – information about certain conditions that can run in families and how they can affect you.
Create your family health history portrait is a helpful tool for you and your health provider to know what you may be predisposed to.
March of Dimes Health History Patient Form – so you know what your provider may ask you during your visit.
Interested in becoming pregnant? In addition to knowing your own risk for genetic conditions, you may want to talk with your partner about their family’s health history too. Some conditions can be passed to pregnancy if both of you carry a gene, even if you do not have the condition yourselves. Your doctor or a genetic counselor can help you navigate any questions you have about specific conditions in your or your partners’ family, and how they may impact a pregnancy.