This Thanksgiving is the fourth annual National Family History Day, as declared by the U.S. Surgeon General. The American College of Medical Genetics (ACMG), in a press release today, encourages every American to know their family medical history and if they haven't already gathered this potentially life-saving information, to start the conversation about family medical history this Thanksgiving, often the only time when extended family is gathered together.
Why is family health history so important? Knowing your family's medical history can help your health care provider to predict conditions for which you and your blood relatives may be at risk and help you take actions to minimize risks and protect your health. A family health record is among the greatest gifts you can leave your children and grandchildren," said genetic counselor, Judith Benkendorf, MS, CGC, Project Manager at The American College of Medical Genetics.;
You can discuss family health history by starting with questions like, "Are there any health problems that are known to run in our family? If so, what are these conditions, who has/had them and at what age were they diagnosed?" You may also want to talk privately with certain family members about potentially sensitive topics.